Inland Taipan

Inland taipan: up close and personal with the world's most venomous snake

Oxyuranus microlepidotus

The western taipan • The small-scaled snake • The fierce snake


About the Inland Taipan 1Fierce Snake Range.jpg

  • Can grow up to 2 meters
  •  Inhabitance
    • Australia’s inland black soil plains between Western Queensland and South Australia
    • There are records of inhabitance in New South Wales and, possibly, the junction of the Murray and Darling Rivers.
    • An isolated population occurs near Coober Pedy in South Australia
  • Danger
    • World’s most venomous snake
    • The venom is extremely neurotoxic
  • Food
    • Prey on small mammals
  • Activity/Shelter
    • Active during the day
    • Hide in deep soil cracks


Venom Source How does snake venom kill so quickly? - Quora

  • The venom originates from the venom gland
  • Upon biting, the masseter muscle squeezes the venom gland, which pumps the venom into the fang for delivery into the prey


Biotransformation 2, 3

  • When snake venom is injected, it is absorbed and enters systemic circulation, which is followed by a range of clinical effects depending on the snake. The clinical effects from taipan venom include:
    • Coagulopathy
      • Kunitz peptides found in venom inhibit serine protease activities, interfering with blood coagulation and fibrinolysis
    • Neurotoxicity
      • Three-finger toxins inhibit post-synaptic nicotinic acetylcholine receptors in the neuromuscular junction and interfere with neuromuscular transmission, causing paralysis of the facial, bulbar, respiratory, and limb muscles that can lead to respiratory failure and death

Toxicokinetics 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9

Comparative proteomic analysis of the venom of the taipan snake, Oxyuranus scutellatus, from Papua New Guinea and Australia: Role of neurotoxic and procoagulant effects in venom toxicity - ScienceDirect

The Inland taipan’s venom consists of: 

  • Neurotoxins
    • Presynaptic neurotoxins
      • Paradoxin (PDX)
    • Postsynaptic neurotoxins
      • Oxylepitoxin-1
      • Alpha-oxytoxin 1
      • Alpha-scutoxin 1
  • Hemotoxins
  • Myotoxins
  • Possibly nephrotoxins
  • Possibly haemorrhagins
  • Hyaluronidase enzyme

Paradoxin (PDX) appears to be one of the most potent, if not the most potent, beta-neurotoxin yet discovered.

Beta-neurotoxins keep nerve endings from liberating the neurotransmitter acetylcholine



Target organs

  • Nervous System
  • Blood VesselsThe Fierce Snake / Inland Taipan Facts - Questions and Answers - Cool and Interesting Facts for Kids | Snake bites, Snake, Survival skills
  • Muscles
  • Kidneys


Signs and symptoms of toxicity 8

  • Symptoms of envenomation include headache, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, collapse and paralysis
  • This ultimately results in death without proper medical intervention

Historical or unique exposures 8

  • To date only a handful of people have ever been bitten by this species
  • No mortalities have been recorded due to the quick and correct application of first aid and medical management

Treatment 9, 10

  • First aid can be applied until professional medical attention can be sought
    • Do not wash , clean, or suck bite
    • Lie still on ground
    • Apply a compression bandage over the bite area then extend it distally and proximally
      • Tourniquets should not be used
    • Bring offending snake to hospital if it has been killedAntivenom: Polyvalent | Children's Health Queensland
  • The following antivenoms are indicated for treatment of Inland Taipan envenoming:
    • Taipan Antivenom
    • Polyvalent Snake Antivenom

Antivenom is the key treatment

  • General supportive care may be implemented
    • Cardiac and respiratory support
    • Shock treatmentAntivenom Administration
    • Fluid maintenance and electrolyte balance
    • Tetanus prophylaxis
    • Antibiotics for local sepsis
    • Blood transfusion if blood loss has occurred


View this video to learn how venom is extracted for study:

Here, Steve Irwin plays with a Taipan!


  1. “Western Taipan.” Queensland Museum, 2021,
  2. Sanhajariya, Suchaya et al. “Pharmacokinetics of Snake Venom.” Toxins vol. 10,2 73. 7 Feb. 2018, doi:10.3390/toxins10020073
  3. Barber, Carmel M et al. “Comparative studies of the venom of a new Taipan species, Oxyuranus temporalis, with other members of its genus.” Toxins vol. 6,7 1979-95. 2 Jul. 2014, doi:10.3390/toxins6071979
  4. Hodgson, Wayne C et al. “The neuromuscular activity of paradoxin: a presynaptic neurotoxin from the venom of the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus).” Neuropharmacology vol. 52,5 (2007): 1229-36. doi:10.1016/j.neuropharm.2007.01.002
  5. White, Julian (November 1991). Oxyuranus microlepidotus . “Neurotoxic paralysis usually takes 2-4 hours to become clinically detectable. Coagulopathy however may become well established within 30 minutes of a bite” International Programme on Chemical Safety.
  6. Clarke, Carol et al. “Oxylepitoxin-1, a reversible neurotoxin from the venom of the inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus).” Peptides vol. 27,11 (2006): 2655-60. doi:10.1016/j.peptides.2006.06.003
  7. Kornhauser, Rachelle et al. “Variations in the pharmacological profile of post-synaptic neurotoxins isolated from the venoms of the Papuan (Oxyuranus scutellatus canni) and coastal (Oxyuranus scutellatus scutellatus) taipans.” Neurotoxicology vol. 31,2 (2010): 239-43. doi:10.1016/j.neuro.2009.12.009
  8. Cecilie Beatson (November 29, 2011). Animal Species: Inland Taipan Australian Museum.
  9. Clinical Toxinology Resources. Haemorrhagins. University of Adelaide.
  10. White, Dr Julian. “Oxyuranus Microlepidotus (PIM 394).” INCHEM, June 1989,