The coastal Taipan, or Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus) is a representative of the genus of extremely poisonous snakes belonging to the family of aspids. Large-sized Australian snakes, whose bites are considered the most dangerous of all modern snakes, before developing a special antidote, caused the death of victims in more than 90% of cases.
Due to its very aggressive disposition, sufficiently large size and speed of movement, taipans are considered the most dangerous of the world's most poisonous snakes living on land. It should be noted that the inhabitant of the Australian continent is also a snake from the family of snakes (Keelback or Tropidonophis mairii), very similar in appearance to Taipan. This representative of reptiles is not poisonous, but is a vivid and lively example of natural mimicry.
The average size of adult representatives of the species is about 1.90-1.96 m, with body weight within three kilograms. However, the maximum recorded length of the coastal taipan is 2.9 meters and weighs 6.5 kg. According to numerous claims of local residents, it is quite possible to meet larger individuals on the territory of the natural habitat, the length of which is noticeably greater than three meters.
As a rule, coastal taipans have a uniform color. The skin color of a scaly reptile can vary from dark brown shades to almost black in the upper part. The abdomen area of the snake most often has a cream or yellow color with irregular yellowish or orange spots. In the winter month, as a rule, the color of such a snake characteristically darkens, which helps the aspid to actively absorb heat from sunlight.
Character and lifestyle
If the poisonous snake is disturbed, then it abruptly raises its head and slightly shakes it, after which it makes several quick throws almost instantly towards its opponent. At the same time, taipan is capable of easily developing speeds of up to 3.0-3.5 m / s.
It is interesting! Numerous cases are known when taipans settle near human housing, where they feed on rodents and frogs, becoming deadly neighbors of people.
Absolutely all throws of this large scaly reptile end with the application of deadly, poisonous bites. If the antidote is not administered within the first two hours after the bite, then the person will inevitably die. The coastal taipan goes hunting only after the intense daytime heat subsides.
How long does taipan live?
There is currently insufficient information to reliably determine the lifespan of coastal taipan in the wild. In captivity, subject to all the rules of keeping and feeding, representatives of this species on average survive to the age of fifteen.
Since the genitals of an adult male are inside, the determination of the sex of a snake is quite complicated, and the color and size are quite variable signs that do not give an absolute guarantee. The visual determination of the sex of many reptiles is based solely on sexual dimorphism in the form of differences in the external features of the male and female.
Due to the peculiarities of the anatomical structure of males and the presence of a pair of hemipenises, a longer and thickened tail at the base can be considered as sexual dimorphism. In addition, adult females of this species, as a rule, are somewhat larger than sexually mature males.
Coastal Taipan Poison
Adult Taipan's venomous teeth reach 1.3 cm in length. The poisonous glands of such a snake contain about 400 mg of toxin, but on average its total amount is not more than 120 mg. The venom of this scaly reptile mainly has a strong neurotoxic and pronounced coagulopathic effect. When a toxin enters the body, a sharp blockage of muscle contractions occurs, as well as respiratory muscles are paralyzed and blood clotting is impaired. A taipan bite most often causes death not later than twelve hours after the poison enters the body.
It is interesting! In the territory of the Australian state of Queensland, where coastal taipans are very common, every second bitten dies from the poison of this incredibly aggressive snake.
In experimental conditions, on average, about 40-44 mg of poison can be obtained from one adult snake. Such a small dose is enough to kill one hundred people or 250 thousand experimental mice. The average lethal dose of taipan venom is LD50 0.01 mg / kg, which is approximately 178-180 times more dangerous than cobra venom. It should be noted that snake venom is inherently not the main reptile weapon, but a digestive enzyme or the so-called modified saliva.
Types of Taipan
Until recently, the Taipan family included only a couple of species: taipan or coastal taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus), as well as the cruel (ferocious) snake (Oxyuranus microliperidotus). The third species, called the Taipan of the Inland Territories (Oxyuranus temporalis), was discovered only ten years ago. Data on representatives of this species is very small today, as the reptile has been recorded in a single copy.
Since the middle of the last century, a pair of subspecies of the coastal taipan has stood out:
- Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus - an inhabitant of the North and North-East coast of Australia;
- Oxyuranus scutellatus canni - inhabiting the southeastern part of the coast in New Guinea.
A fierce snake is shorter than the coastal taipan, and the maximum length of a mature individual, as a rule, does not exceed a couple of meters. The color of such a reptile can vary from light brown tones to a fairly dark brown color. In the period from June to August, the skin of a cruel snake darkens noticeably, and the head area acquires a characteristic black color for the species.
It is interesting! The difference between Taipan McCoy and the coastal Taipan is less aggressive, and all documented cases of fatal bites to date have been the result of careless handling of this poisonous snake.
The fierce snake is a typical inhabitant of Australia, preferring the central part of the mainland and the northern regions. A scaly reptile settles on dry plains and in desert areas, where it hides in natural cracks, in soil faults or under rocks, which greatly complicates its detection.
Coastal Taipan Diet
The basis of the diet of coastal taipan are amphibians and small mammals, including a variety of rodents. Taipan McCoy, also known as the inland or desert taipan, eats mainly small mammals, not using amphibians at all.
Breeding and offspring
Females of the coastal taipan reach puberty at the age of seven months, and males become sexually mature at about sixteen months. The mating season has no clear time limits, therefore, reproduction can occur from the first decade of March to December. Typically, the main breeding peak occurs between July and October, when Australia's climate is best suited for the incubation of poisonous reptile eggs.
The sexually mature males of the coastal taipan participate in exciting and rather fierce ritual battles that can last several hours. Such a peculiar test of male strength allows him to win the right to mate with a female. Mating takes place inside the shelter of the male. The period of gestation lasts from 52 to 85 days, after which the female lays about two dozen eggs.
Eggs of medium diameter are laid by females in wild animals of sufficient size abandoned burrows, or in loose soil under stones and tree roots.
It is interesting! Sexual intercourse in scaly reptiles is one of the most prolonged in nature, and the process of continuous fertilization can take up to ten days.
In such a "nest", eggs can lie for two to three months, which directly depends on the temperature and humidity indicators. Newborn snakes have a body length of 60 cm, but under favorable external conditions they grow very quickly, reaching the size of an adult in a short time.
Despite the toxicity, taipan can become a victim of many animals, which include spotted hyenas, marsupials, martens, weasels, as well as some fairly large feathered predators. A dangerous snake that settles near a person’s housing or on reed plantations is often destroyed by humans.
Population and species status
Coastal taipans - reptiles are quite common, and the ability to quickly reproduce their own kind does not cause problems with maintaining the general population at stable rates. To date, representatives of the species are categorized as the “View of Least Concern”.