Boomslangs and inland taipans are distinct snake species with interesting features. Although both reptiles are regarded as some of the most venomous snakes globally, you may have to walk from one end of the earth (Sub Saharan Africa) to the other (Australia) to find both snakes. Now, that’s only one out of the several differences between both snakes. Do you want to learn more about them? Read this interesting piece that compares a boomslang vs an inland taipan.
Comparing a Boomslang and an Inland Taipan
|Size||The average length is 3.1ft to 5.3ft||The average length is 6 ft. Some grow as long as 8 ft.|
|Habitat||Trees||Floodplains, rocky outcrops, sandy dunes, gibber plains.|
|Distribution||Africa- Mozambique, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Namibia, Chad, Nigeria, Guinea.||South-western Queensland and North-eastern Australia.|
|Morphology||Large eye-to-head ratio, with fangs located at the back of the upper jaw. They have thin and slender green bodies, which aid camouflage.||Robust with a rectangular-shaped head and large eyes. Color is darker during winter. The Dorsal surface ranges from dark brown to light fawn, while the ventral surface is yellowish.|
|Diet||Feed on lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, rodents, and other small mammals.||Mainly feed on long-haired rat (Rattus villosissimus).|
|Venom||Disrupts blood clotting, causing internal and external bleeding.||Very lethal, venom is neurotoxic and spreads fast due to the hyaluronidase enzyme.|
The Key Differences Between A Boomslang and an Inland Taipan
The key differences between a boomslang and an inland taipan lie in their distribution, habitat, size, morphology, and venom. The former has a predilection for wooded grasslands and lowland forests in Africa, while the latter is predominant in near-desert areas in Australia. Furthermore, inland taipans are generally larger than boomslangs. But that is not all.
We will examine these differences in detail.
Boomslang Vs Inland Taipan: Size
The average length of an adult boomslang is between 3.1ft to 5.3ft, and they have distinctly large eyes. They tend to be smaller than the average inland taipan, which grows up to 6 feet. Larger ones can grow as long as 8 feet, making them formidable reptiles.
Boomslang Vs Inland Taipan: Habitat
The name ‘boomslang’ is quite the peculiar one for a snake, and it translates to tree snake in Afrikaans. Unsurprisingly, sightings of the boomslang are rather unusual because they move around on trees well-camouflaged. However, like every other cold-blooded animal, they take short breaks in the sun to get warm. Yet, they generally stay close to trees and try to hide.
During the colder months, the boomslang prefers to hibernate in a bird’s nest, and it can go for extended periods without food. This is known as ‘brumation.’
On the other hand, the inland taipan is not a fan of areas with rich vegetation. You may find them in floodplains, but they also take to rocky outcrops and dunes. They prefer to shelter in holes, crevices, and soil cracks.
Boomslang Vs Inland Taipan: Distribution
The distribution of the boomslang species is across countries like Mozambique, Swaziland, Namibia, and Zimbabwe, with several wooded grasslands and lowland forests. There are also reports of sightings in Chad, Nigeria, and Guinea.
The inland taipan is found in semi-arid regions, popularly the Chanel country of south-western Queensland (Morney plains station & Diamantina National park) and north-eastern South Australia (Sturt Stony Desert, Oodnadatta, and Tirari Desert).
Boomslang Vs Inland Taipan: Morphology
The most striking feature of the boomslang is its large black eyes which appear out of proportion to its egg-shaped head. Boomslangs are also rear-fanged (fangs are located at the back of the upper jaw). The males have long and slender bright green bodies with either black, blue, yellow, or brown outlines along their scales. In comparison, the females have long, thin gray bodies with brown bellies, and you can tell them apart easily.
The green color is crucial to the camouflage of the boomslang species on trees. However, their young ones do not attain that color until they mature. Initially, they all have gray skin dotted with black spots and large, emerald-colored eyes.
On the other hand, the inland taipan is robust with a rectangular-shaped head. They exhibit seasonal variations in color, appearing darker during winter and lighter in summer. They have large eyes, and the head region tends to be darker than other parts. On the dorsal surface, they may be dark brown, yellowish-brown, or pale fawn. On the ventral surface, they are yellowish with orange spots. There’s a peculiar herringbone pattern along their body length, which is due to the black-brown lower anterior edge of their dorsal scales.
Boomslang Vs. Inland Taipan: Diet
Boomslangs are content with a regular diet of lizards, frogs, birds, eggs, rodents, and other small mammals. They can open their mouths wide, almost about 180°, to swallow prey whole if necessary. In times of scarcity, they may eat each other too.
Inland taipans depend on small to medium-sized mammals for sustenance, particularly the long-haired rat Rattus villosissimus. They usually corner them and bite them severally to kill them before ingesting them. The long-haired rat typically goes through ‘boom-and-bust’ cycles, and this affects the diet of inland taipans. Hence, the snakes may lose weight while depending on other sources for survival during drought but grow very fast during good seasons.
It’s worthy of note that boomslangs are snakes of prey for predators like falcons, ospreys, and kestrels that can reach them in the trees. The inland taipan is mainly vulnerable to large monitor lizards within their habitats, although the mulga snake preys on young inland taipans.
Boomslang Vs Inland Taipan: Venom
Boomslangs are typically shy snakes that rarely attack humans unprovoked. However, when they do, it tends to be fatal. The venom will disrupt the blood clotting mechanisms in the human body, and a person may die of internal and external bleeding. The good news is that the onset of action is quite slow and can take several hours. Full effects can take a day or two. Hence, most people will survive with immediate, proper medical intervention.
The inland taipan is not a snake to joke with. Many say it has the most toxic venom of all snakes- estimates tell us that one bite contains enough toxins to kill more than a hundred adult humans. Worse still, it’s quite fast, and it bites several times, releasing enough venom to kill any prey. The venom is very dangerous to the nervous system, and it spreads quickly through the body. Symptoms include abdominal pain, paralysis, headache, and vomiting.
Despite these characteristics, the inland taipan is a shy reptile and avoids confrontation except when cornered or handled. Before it attacks, it will raise its head, with the forebody aligned in an ‘S’ curve. Due to their remote location, it rarely encounters humans too.
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