adder snakes are found in Australia and Papua New Guinea.
from other Australian poisonous snakes, due to their looks.
They have a viper-like
appearance, but like other Australian poisonous
snakes, they belong the Elapidae family.
Their bodies are stockier than other Australian
snakes', they have a more triangular head, a thin tail tip, and the
habit of hiding under the leaves, with only head and tail visible.
They are mainly nocturnal,
a few species of them in
Papua New Guinea and Indonesia: Common, desert, Pilbara, Barkly Tableland and northern;
(Australia), rough scaled (Australia,
death adder (Indonesia, Papua New Guinea).
one we have on Cape York peninsula, is the northern death adder,
What Does Death Adder Look
easy to distinguish
from other Australian poisonous snakes by their triangular
They often have bands, but patterns and colours can vary
depending on their
location and exact habitat.
The colour can vary from brown,
black and grey to reddish,
Hunting and Feeding
is well known for
their hunting technique.
Rather than actively hunting, they quietly sit and wait for the prey to come
themselves under leaf
litter, sand, gravel,
soil or any other ground cover, only leaving their head and tail out.
The tail tip is tiny,
worm-like, exactly for this purpose.
When a prey approaches, they wiggletheir tail tip,
which sticks out of
the leaf litter, as if it was a worm.
That lures the prey
attracts it to the striking distance, and the strike is quick and
Like most groups of snakes have their favourite
prey, death adders love lizards.
But they also eat birds, small mammals, frogs and other reptiles.
Bite, Venom and Treatment
Their habit of hiding under the ground substance makes them difficult
to see, and therefore easy
accidentally step on.
Being short snakes, their bites
seldom reach higher than your ankles, so high boots, long
and maybe even gaiters are a good protection from them on remote
While most other Australian poisonous snakes tend to have a mixture of neuro-, haemo- and myotoxins, death adders only have one kind -
So instead of a mixture of muscular and respiratory failure and blood
clotting, death adder
neuromuscular failure and attacks the respiratory system.
quickly and brings symptoms
like nausea, paralysis and breathing difficulties.
Before the antivenom became available, their bites had a 50% mortality
rate, but today a death is rare.
That means, though, that you
get to the hospital to get the antivenom, and it may not
if you are somewhere remote, so an EPIRB
and a snake
bite kit are good to have in your vehicle.
Northern Death Adder
northern species that we
have in Cape York, is about 60cm
length in average, but larger specimens can be 70cm.
It is grey to reddish
colour, and it is less
than the southern species.
It is found in scrub and eucalypt woodland, both wet and dry.
Like the others in the group, they are ambush predators, and like the
others, they are active at night.
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This complete 300 pages
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background chapters on the peninsula's history and wildlife; and the comprehensive detail about all the places (down to prices, opening hours and full contact detail), it has invaluable information on at least 10 four wheel drive tracks, at least 30 guaranteed FREE camping spots on the Cape (and at least 150 on your way to the Cape), at least 40 best swimming holes, all mapped; as well as practical things - from fuel, roads, wireless internet and mobile phone reception, how to deal with the national parks booking rules; and Aboriginal land entrance and camping permits and alcohol restrictions - to vehicle preparation and accessories and necessary recovery gear by my partner Mark who is the recovery guy on northern Cape York and the Old Telegraph Track). Not to mention locals' tips on how to spot that croc and palm cockatoo ;-)
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