What Do Inland Taipans Eat? Their Diet Explained

Written by Taiwo Victor
Published: June 26, 2022
© iStock.com/AlizadaStudios
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Did you know that the inland taipan is among the most venomous snakes in the world? No, it actually is the most venomous snake in the world! Scientists use a toxicological test called the median lethal dosage, or LD50, to determine how venomous a snake is. The venom of a snake is proportional to its lethal dosage, which means the lower the LD50 rate, the higher the potency of its venom. With an LD50 of 0.01mg, the inland taipan has the lowest LD50 of all the snakes found on the planet. In fact, the inland taipan bites with only 44 to 110 milligrams of venom per bite, but this is enough to kill 289 people! It not only envenomates more than 80% of the time, but it also has the potential to bite many times.

Despite its strength, the inland taipan is considered docile, preferring to be left alone at all costs. So, given how deadly an inland taipan can be to humans, there is no doubt that they are much deadlier when it comes to other animals and their prey! Which makes us wonder, what do inland taipans eat? Below, we will discuss which animals these real snake royalties like to feast on and how they hunt in the wild.

What Do Inland Taipans Eat?

Inland Taipan Snake, a snake similar to the Central Ranges Taipan. The Central Ranges Taipan has a brown light weight body with a pale head that resembles the coastal taipan.
As carnivores, inland taipans’ diet majorly consists of rodents.

©Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock.com

Inland taipans are carnivorous snakes that feed primarily and exclusively on mammals. These deadly snakes have rodents as a major part of their diet, including but not limited to long-haired rats or plague rats, plains rats, and house mice. Depending on where they settle and migrate, inland taipans can change through diet courses. They can prey on mammalian items, such as bandicoots and occasionally consume birds but never plants and other vegetation. The inland taipan’s entire way of existence revolves around the annual boom and bust cycle of plains rats and house mice in its natural environment.

How Do Inland Taipans Eat?

10 Most Venomous Animals - Inland Taipan in strike position
The venom of an inland taipan acts very fast, so its prey usually has no chance.

©iStock.com/Ken Griffiths

Inland taipans are equipped with the world’s strongest venom, so hunting is an easy feat for them. The snake encircles the rat in its burrow or deep earth fractures, then bites it repeatedly without releasing it. The venom is so fast-acting that the victim has no opportunity to fight back. Then, the inland taipan will swallow its prey immediately, unlike its less venomous cousin, the coastal taipan, which attacks and then releases its prey. 

The inland taipan prefers to hunt early in the morning, but in cooler conditions, it will hunt later in the day. It becomes nocturnal under exceptionally hot conditions.

How Do Inland Taipans Hunt?

An inland taipan in a threatening pose
Inland taipans hardly fail to hit their target.

©Ken Griffiths/Shutterstock.com

The inland taipan is a fantastic hunter. Even at an early age, inland taipans hunt tiny mammals. This snake will seek to corner prey in a hole or crack after identifying it using its sense of smell and then bite them numerous times in rapid succession. Inland taipans hardly ever take on a mammal that is larger than they are. They strike with amazing dexterity and precision, and nearly never fail to hit their target. Their venom would then start working immediately, allowing the snake to consume its prey instantly.

What Kind of Teeth Do Inland Taipans Have?

As venomous serpents, inland taipans have two short fangs fixed in place that inject potent venom into their victims. These hollow fangs fill with poison from two venom glands on either side of the taipan’s head, similar to hypodermic needles. Without treatment, the venom of inland taipans can kill an adult man in 30 minutes to an hour.

Inland taipans have smaller fangs (ranging from 3.5 to 6.2 mm, or about a quarter of an inch) and deliver only approximately 1/3 as much venom each bite as coastal taipans.

Inland Taipan Predator: What Eats Inland Taipans?

In the wild, the inland taipan has very few predators. The king brown snake and the perentie monitor lizard (Australia’s largest monitor lizard) have been observed eating baby taipans and juveniles.

What Do Inland Taipans Look Like?

The inland taipan is a huge snake that may grow up to 8 feet long and averages 6 feet in length. It has a rectangular head and huge, dark, round eyes. The back can range from dark brown to yellowish-brown, with an inky black blue head on rare occasions, while the underside bears yellow scales and orange markings. The scales are colored in a zigzag pattern that runs the entire body length. These hues will shift with the seasons, becoming darker in the winter to keep them warm and lighter in the summer to keep them cool.

Fierce snake, small-scaled snake, or western taipan are all names for the inland taipan. The name “fierce,” however, denotes its venom rather than its temperament.

Where Do Inland Taipans Live?

The inland or western taipan is an Australian native. In the inner central section of the country, the snake can be found in semi-arid, low-rainfall environments, plains, deserts, and other similar places in southwestern Queensland and northeastern South Australia. In Victoria and New South Wales, inland taipans are thought to be extinct. Because this snake spends much of the day lurking in clay crevices or fissures, and since few people dwell in these isolated, hot, and dry locations, humans rarely come across the inland taipan. 

The inland taipan is a species of least concern, according to the IUCN Red List. Although its range in central Australia is fairly narrow and constrained, it does not appear to face severe challenges in the wild. 

How Dangerous is an Inland Taipan?

The inland taipan is commonly said to be the world’s most venomous snake. They’re even more poisonous than blue kraits and king cobras. A bite that goes untreated can cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, abdominal discomfort, and paralysis. Respiratory failure and suffocation are the most common causes of death from inland taipan bites. According to the Australian Zoo, this snake should have enough venom to kill a hundred adult males in a single bite. This is owing to the snake’s fatal toxicity, huge fangs, and quick-spreading activity. In a test on mice, the inland taipan was shown to have the most lethal venom of any snake.


The Featured Image

Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is the most venomous snake in the world, endemic to central Australia.
Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) is the most venomous snake in the world, endemic to central Australia.
© iStock.com/AlizadaStudios

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About the Author

For six years, I have worked as a professional writer and editor for books, blogs, and websites, with a particular focus on animals, tech, and finance. When I'm not working, I enjoy playing video games with friends.

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