Some five million people are bitten by snakes each year. Most serious cases take place in poor rural communities and the victims are generally women, children and farmers.
Now that's a snake... king brown in Branxton, NSW Australia.
Now that's a snake... king brown in Branxton, NSW Australia.
Bites from venomous snakes kill at least 100,000 people a year, with many countries lacking the drugs and capacity to deal with the threat.
The Inland Taipan,also known as the Small Scaled Snake and Fierce Snake, is native to Australia and is the most venomous land snake in the world based on LD50 value.
The inland taipan is native to the arid regions of central Australia. Its range extends from the southeast part of the Northern Territory into west Queensland. The snake can also be found north of Lake Eyre and to the west of the split of the Murray River, Darling River, and Murrumbidgee River.
The Inland Taipan is dark tan, ranging from a rich, dark hue to a brownish olive-green, depending on season.Inland taipans adapt to their environment by changing the colour of the skin during seasonal changes. They tend to become lighter during summer and darker during the winter.
Its back, sides and tail may be different shades of brown and grey, with many scales having a wide blackish edge. These dark-marked scales occur in diagonal rows so that the marks align to form broken chevrons of variable length that are inclined backward and downward. The lowermost lateral scales often have an anterior yellow edge. The dorsal scales are smooth and without keels. The round-snouted head and neck are usually noticeably darker than the body (glossy black in winter, dark brown in summer), the darker colour allowing the snake to heat itself while only exposing a smaller portion of the body at the burrow entrance. The eye is of average size with a blackish brown iris and without a noticeable coloured rim around the pupil. It has twenty-three rows of mid-body scales, between fifty-five and seventy divided subcaudal scales, and one anal scale. The Inland Taipan averages approximately 1.8 metres (5.9 ft) in length, although larger specimens can reach lengths of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft).
The Eastern Brown Snake, often referred to as the Common Brown Snake, is an elapid snake native to Australia. This species is considered to be the second most venomous land snake in the world based on LD50 value.
In Australia 60% of all deaths caused by snake bites are from this fella.
The Eastern Brown Snake is found all the way along the East coast of Australia, from the tip of Cape York, along the coasts and inland ranges of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia. They are also found in arid areas of the Northern Territory, the far east of the Kimberley in Western Australia and discontinuously in parts of New Guinea, specifically northern Milne Bay Province and Central Province in Papua New Guinea, and the Merauke region of Papua Province, in the Indonesian part of New Guinea. Due to their mainly rodent diet, they can often be found near houses and farms.
Adult Eastern Brown Snakes are highly variable in color. Whilst usually a uniform shade of brown, they can have various patterns including speckles and bands, and range from a very pale fawn colour through to black, including orange, silver, yellow and grey. Juveniles can be banded and have a black head, with a lighter band behind, a black nape, and numerous red-brown spots on the belly.
This species has an average length of 1.5–1.8 m and it is rarely larger than 2 m. Large Eastern Brown Snakes are often confused with "King Brown" snakes (Pseudechis australis), whose habitat they share in many areas.
Black Snakes These snakes are found in every Australian state with the exception of Tasmania and some species are found in Papua New Guinea. They inhabit a variety of habitat types, from arid areas to swampland. All species are dangerous and can inflict a potentially lethal bite. Most snakes in this genus reach about 2m and vary in colour.
Some species are brown, where others may be black. The most recognisable and widespread species in the genus are the Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) and the Mulga Snake (King Brown) (Pseudechis australis). These snakes will feed on lizards, frogs, birds, small mammals and even other snakes. All species, except the Red-bellied Black Snake are egg laying.
How the snake got its poison
Long ago in the Dreamtime, the animals were very much bigger than they are today and the bite of a snake was not poisonous but a bite of a goanna was.
Mungoon-gali was a large goanna and because of his poisonous bite was quite a terror of the land. His favourite food was the flesh of blackfellas whom he used to devour in numbers. He wrought such havoc that all the other tribes held a meeting as they feared that Mungoon-gali would soon exterminate the blackfellas if something were not done to stop him. Ooyu-bu-lui the black snake spoke up and said that he could but they only laughed. Ooyu-bu-lui told them that by the time Yhi the sun has gone to her rest the next day, he shall have the poison bag of Mungoon-gali and promptly glided away.
Ooyu-bu-lui knew he could only defeat Mungoon-gali by being cunning as goanna was much bigger and stronger than he and above all, Mungoon-gali had the poison bag which had made him invincible for so long. Ooyu-bu-lui decided that he would follow Mungoon-gali to his camp and wait for goanna to wake from his sleep. When Mungoon-gali awoke, he saw black snake and quickly made a rush at him. Ooyu-bu-lui quickly told Mungoon-gali that he was there to warn him of a plot the tribes had planned against him and not to kill him. Mungoon-gali told black snake that if he told him the plot then he would spare his life and the lives of his tribe forever. Ooyu-bu-lui did not believe Mungoon-gali but goanna reassured black snake that he would keep his promise and to prove it he would give him anything he pleases. Ooyu-bu-lui said that he would only feel safe if he had his poison bag to hold while he told of the plot. Mungoon-gali refused and told Ooyu-bu-lui to choose something else but without goanna's poison bag, he was not going to tell. Determined to hear of the plot at all risks, Mungoon-gali reluctantly reached into his mouth and drew out the hidden poison bag and handed it to Ooyu-bu-lui who took the bag and went with it to his old place on the edge of the camp. Ooyu-bu-lui put the poison bag into his own mouth then began to Mungoon-gali of the plot. He told goanna that by the time Yhi had gone to her rest that night, one of the tribes was to get the poison bag from him and so take away his power to harm the Daens in the future. Before Mungoon-gali had time to realise that he had been tricked, Ooyu-bu-lui was gone.
Ooyu-bu-lui went back and showed the tribes that he now had the poison bag of Mungoon-gali. When the tribes asked for the poison bag to destroy it, Ooyu-bu-lui refused to give it to them so the other tribes tried to banish him from their camps. Ooyu-bu-lui told all the tribes that he would surely kill anyone who tried to stop him.
Since then, snakes have been poisonous and not goannas and they never meet now without fighting. But the poison bag is powerless to harm the goannas as Mungoon-gali, a great Wirinun, knew of a plant which, if eaten after a snakebite, made the poison powerless to kill or injure. As soon as a goanna is bitten by a snake, he rushes to this plant and eating it, is saved from any evil consequences of the bite.
This antidote has ever since been the secret of the goanna tribe left in their possession by Mungoon-gali who lost his poison bag by the cunning of Ooyu-bu-lui, the black snake.