Coastal Taipan facts! Well, we are talking of snakes and not just any ordinary snake – we are talking of one of the world’s most venomous snakes you can ever come across.
These Coastal Taipans are a bit shy when it comes to showdown with an opponent in an open area. However, when it comes to a closed place with close-quarter combats, Coastal Taipans can be really deadly.
Instead of slipping into a vanishing act as in case of an open arena, these snakes will opt for holding their ground and attacking in case of surprise and close encounters.
Let us find out 60 interesting Coastal Taipan facts and learn more about them…You ready?
Coastal Taipan Facts: 1-5
1. Coastal Taipan is the common name. However, this snake is also known by two other common names – Eastern Taipan and Common Taipan.
2. The unusual name Taipan was actually given by Wik-mungkan people who inhabited the Cape York Peninsula of Australia.
3. The term Taipan was introduced for general use by Dr. Donald Thomson – an anthropologist. Dr. Thomson was the first person in this world to have captured a live Coastal Taipan and milk it. In case you are not aware, milking of a snake actually refers to the act of removal of venoms from a snake’s fangs.
4. These snakes are capable of growing up to 6.6 feet on average but there are specimens that are about 10 feet in length. They have a very robust body build up. However, one of the easiest ways to identify a Coastal Taipan is to look at its head and neck.
5. The neck of a Coastal Taipan is pretty slender compared to the head, which has a deep rectangular shape. In particular, the head has a shape similar to a coffin.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 6-10
6. The color of Coastal Taipans varies. Some may be yellowish in color. Some may be nearly black and some may be reddish brown or sometimes dark brown.
7. Interestingly, Coastal Taipans actually undergo seasonal color changes. During the winter months they turn a slightly darker hue while in the summer months, they take lighter hue.
8. The head again is a distinguishing body part here. The head of the snake is always paler compared to the body of the snake, especially in case of juveniles.
9. As the snake grows older, the head starts becoming darker in color. However, the head still remains slightly paler and especially, the snout is way paler than the body.
10. The dorsal fins of Coastal Taipans are pretty smooth but at times, the fins may be slightly keeled, particularly on the neck.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 11-15
11. The underside or the ventral surface of Coastal Taipans are yellowish in color but can be even lighter in shade, narrowing down to almost cream in color. Orange blotches can be found scattered all over the ventral surface.
12. These snakes have very interesting eyes. They have round pupils and the iris have an intense orange-brown color. The eyes of a Coastal Taipan are pretty large.
13. Identification issues – sometimes Coastal Taipans are confused with elapids of brown color. It is very common to confuse a Coastal Taipan with the following snakes of elapid family:
- Pseudonaja textilis or the Eastern Brown Snake.
- P. nuchalis or the Western Brown Snake.
- Pseudechis australis or the Mulga Snake.
14. Compared to the Coastal Taipan, the Eastern Brown Snake, the Western Brown Snake and the Mulga Snake have thicker necks and smaller heads. Even their snout is either of the same color as the body or darker in shade.
15. There are two subspecies of the Coastal Taipan. They are the Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus and the Oxyuranus scutellatus canni.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 16-20
16. Coastal Taipans are found only in New Guinea Island and Australia. The Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus is found along the arc formed from eastern coast of northeastern New South Wales, running all the way through Queensland. They spread out to northern areas of Northern Territory and all the way to north-western side of Western Australia.
17. The Oxyuranus scutellatus canni on the other hand is found all across New Guinea Island, especially along the southern side of the island. The maximum concentration of this sub-species of Coastal Taipan is in Papua New Guinea.
18. Do remember that in places where the winter temperature can drop below 20°C, Coastal Taipans do not live in those places.
19. Though the Coastal Taipans are known for staying active all throughout the year, their activities increase more during spring and late winter. That is when the possibility of encountering these snakes is highest.
20. Most preferred habitats of Coastal Taipans are coastal regions that have tropical or temperate weather and are wetter. However, they also prefer woodlands, dry and wet sclerophyll forests.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 21-25
21. They can also be found in grassy areas that are artificial or natural such as cane fields, disused rubbish tips, grazing paddocks. These areas are selected by these snakes because they can find rats in abundance.
22. Yet another favored habitat of these snakes is introduced lantana thickets. They are usually found taking shelter in abandoned litter, vegetation piles, hollow logs and animal burrows etc.
23. Most interesting of all the Coastal Taipan Snake facts is that it has a very interesting feeding habit. It is very selective about its diet. When it comes to food, this snake will eat only warm-blooded animals like birds, rats, mice and bandicoots. In captivity, however, Coastal Taipans are known to feed even on skinks.
24. Coastal Taipans are known for actively scanning for possible food. They mostly make use of their eyesight, which is very well-developed.
25. These snakes are known for travelling with their heads held high above the ground so that scanning for prey becomes easy. Once a prey is spotted at a striking distance, they will actually freeze for some time.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 26-30
26. After a few moments of freezing, the Coastal Taipan will then hurl forward and deliver one or multiple lethal bites at lightning fast speed.
27. Most interesting of Coastal Taipan snake facts is its hunting strategy. Unlike many other snakes, the Coastal Taipan will not grab the prey immediately after delivering a venomous bite. It will rather allow the prey to stagger away.
28. The reason why this strategy is adopted is that some mammals like rats have long incisors which can be effectively used for retaliation. Under such circumstances, the snake can get hurt pretty badly. By allowing the prey to stagger away, the snake avoids any such possibility.
29. The bitten prey then collapses because of the venom. However, by the time the venom plays its dirty trick, the prey may actually manage to move to a different location, which might be at a significant distance from the point where it was bitten.
30. Coastal Taipan will then start tracking the prey using its scent. The snake will make use of its flickering tongue to capture the scent and finally reach the collapsed prey. Once found, the snake will peacefully devour the prey.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 31-35
31. Usually, the Coastal Taipan is a diurnal snake. The best times to spot this snake are early morning and mid-morning.
32. Though Coastal Taipans are diurnal, they may come out and become active during the nights provided the weather conditions are pretty hot.
33. In our previous article we mentioned that these snakes change color with changes in seasons. In captivity, it was found that during the summer months, the snakes assume a bright coppery color while during the winter months, the color changes to dull brown.
34. Experts believe that the color change is more of a weather-based adaptation because dull brown is darker and it helps to keep the snake warmer during colder months by absorbing more heat.
35. Similarly, bright coppery color during the summer months help the snakes to stay cooler by not absorbing too much heat.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 36-40
36. However, this color changing behavior is not present among the juveniles. It is present only in the adult snakes.
37. Coastal Taipans are terrestrial snakes. They do prefer wetter places for spending their life, but that does not mean they spend time in water. They stay on the ground.
38. Experts who have studied the Coastal Taipans say that the females carry oviducal eggs starting late August till mid-November.
39. It has also been found that the gravid females bask in corn field windrows for two months – August and September.
40. Studies in captive conditions reveal that the mating activities reach peak during early spring and late winter. However, these snakes can actually mate throughout the year.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 41-45
41. Out in the wild, the male Coastal Taipans will fight each other to show dominance. This is not a fight-to-death combat but just wrestling like combat to assert dominance.
42. During the combat, two male Taipans will entwine with each other, as if they are wrestling, and then try to push down the neck and head of each other.
43. It is not really known how the winner of this wrestling match is decided, but whoever wins turns out to be the alpha male and gets to mate with a greater number of receptive females in the whole area.
44. Mating in Coastal Taipans is associated with courtship. Courtship among Coastal Taipans is no different than courtship among any other snake species. Usually when a male gets close to a female in heat, the male will get very excited.
45. The excited male will then climb up along the female’s body and while doing so, he will rub his chin along the body of the female. Also, the male will flick its tongue over the body of the female.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 46-50
46. Experts have no idea of how long a typical mating session lasts in the wild but in captive conditions, a mating session as long as 210 minutes has been recorded.
47. Coastal Taipans do not give birth to offspring directly. They lay eggs, and hence, are oviparous snakes. The female takes 2 to 3 months after mating to lay her eggs.
48. On an average, a female will lay 11 soft-shelled eggs but the number of eggs laid can vary significantly and range anywhere between 3 and 21 eggs.
49. The places that are selected by females for laying eggs are – ground cavities, underneath tree roots or hollow logs.
50. One of the very interesting Coastal Taipan facts is that the females may be capable of storing sperm for several months. This belief comes from the study of captive females who managed to produce a second clutch of eggs several weeks after laying the first clutch of eggs.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 51-55
51. The laid eggs may take two or up to three months for hatching. The time required actually depends on the temperature of incubation.
52. The young Coastal Taipans that hatch out of the eggs are fully developed except that they are only 46 cm long. However, they are very much capable of living solitary lives and hunting on their own.
53. These snakes can grow incredibly fast. Within the first year itself, the young ones are capable of growing up to a meter in length. This is however true in case of captive Coastal Taipans. Experts believe that under natural conditions too, these snakes grow incredibly fast.
54. Coastal Taipans that are immature or are newly hatched are known to have some natural predators. Goannas and birds of prey are the natural predators.
55. Only a few predators take on a fully-grown and adult Coastal Taipan because adults are far more alert and are very flexible and fast. They can deliver deadly bites in defense.
Coastal Taipan Facts: 56-60
56. Humans are another breed of predators. Unlike birds and goannas, humans don’t kill the snake for eating, but just kill them on sight. It is a routine practice among humans. This is possibly a natural reaction among humans.
57. Of all elapid snakes that are found in Australia, Coastal Taipans have the longest fangs and they also have a very well-developed venom apparatus. Unlike other elapids that have shorter and fixed fangs, the fangs of Coastal Taipans are long and can reach up to 12 mm in length. The fangs can also move forward slightly while striking.
58. Coastal Taipans are capable of delivering multiple bites within seconds. The first bite delivers very toxic venom into the muscles. However, the second and third bites are also capable of delivering the same amount of venom.
59. Though the venom is injected into the muscles, it is capable of disrupting the body’s nervous system and also destroys the body’s ability of blood clotting. Headache, vomiting, nausea, convulsions, internal bleeding, paralysis, kidney damage and myolysis (muscle tissue destruction) are some of the effects of Coastal Taipan venom.
60. There is anti-venom available for Coastal Taipan bite, but it has to be administered quickly because serious symptoms can set in very rapidly. In absence of a proper anti-venom, a Coastal Taipan bite will be fatal to humans.