The taipan of Australia is one of the most venomous snakes in the world, with a bite that can kill a mouse in three seconds and an adult human in 30 minutes. It is highly aggressive and employs a snap-and-release attack strategy, whereby a thrust and sudden bite is followed by withdrawal to avoid being crushed by the possible death throes of the victim.
Taipans thrive on the northern coasts of Australia, possibly because they only eat mammals. When the highly toxic cane toad was introduced to the area, it caused the numbers of frog-eating snakes to decline, leaving plenty of prey and vacant habitat for the taipan. Its lethal bite and athletic lunging have earned it the nickname the "poison pogo-stick".
Taipans are very variable in colour, ranging from sandy and light russet through to jet black.
The female taipan becomes sexually mature at a smaller size than the male, and will often lay two clutches of 10 - 20 eggs during the breeding season. The hatchlings are around 45 cm (18 in) long. They are usually a light olive colour, with creamy underbellies and reddish eyes.
Distribution: North Australian coast.
Habitat: Open grassland and woodland.
Food: Small mammals.
Size: 1.5 m (5 ft).
Maturity: 6-12 months.
Breeding: Females lay 1 or 2 clutches of 10-20 eggs per year.
Life span: Unknown.