Common Death Adder

The common death adder is a venomous nocturnal species native to Australia. They are highly solitary and possess excellent camouflage due to their body coloration.

While this snake has a widespread distribution within its habitat, their estimated population remains unknown.

Scientific Classifications

  • Suborder:Serpentes
  • Family:Elapidae
  • Genus:Acanthophis
  • Species:Acanthophis antarcticus

Conservation Status

Not EvaluatedNE

Not Evaluated

Data DeficientDD

Data Deficient

Least ConcernLC

Least Concern

Near ThreatenedNT

Near Threatened





Critically EndangeredCR

Critically Endangered

Extinct in the wildEW

Extinct in the wild




Common Death Adder Snake


The average length of common death adders reaches up to 27.6-36.6 inches (2.3–3.3 ft) and weighs about 1.5 lbs (700 g).

 Color and Appearance

These snakes have thick bodies covered in black, brown, and red bands and cream, grey, or pink undersides. They have triangular, broad, flattened heads and thin tails. This snake possesses the longest fangs among all Australian snakes.


The common death adder has two subspecies:

  • Acanthophis antarcticus antarcticus
  • Acanthophis antarcticus schistos

Are they Dangerous

The death adder is a highly venomous snake but they are not openly aggressive and avoid attracting attention. Still, if threatened or provoked, they might enter conflict with humans.

Their bites are fatal, and the venom contains an LD50 value of 0.6 mg/kg. It can cause abdominal pain, drowsiness, enlargement of regional lymph nodes, headaches, and paralysis of extraocular muscles. They yield 70 – 236 mg venom per bite. Most people bitten by these snakes ended up dying.

Common Death Adder At a Glance

Common Death Adder Range


The distribution ranges across the eastern part and the coasts of southern Australia. They are found in New South Wales, South Australia, and Queensland. The population of this snake is scarce in the western part of South Australia and Western Australia.

Common Death Adder Habitat


Temperate grasslands, Mediterranean forests, tropical savannas, shrublands like heath, and woodlands are preferred habitats.


Their average lifespan is up to 9 years in the wild. However, in captivity, they can live up to 15 years.

Acanthophis antarcticus


Several predators, like the Kookaburra bird and the cane toad, prey on juveniles and hatchlings.

Adults are targeted by birds like buzzards and crows, as well as large lizards such as goannas.


The diet of these snakes consists of frogs, birds, lizards, mice, and rats. Their diet varies with age, with the juveniles consuming lizards and frogs, and the adults preferring mammals and birds.

These snakes are ambush predators. They do not actively forage like other Australian snakes; instead, they coil under leaves, hiding and waiting for their prey to come to them. Once a suitable target approaches, they strike, injecting their venom into it, and then wait for it to die before swallowing it whole.

Baby Common Death Adder


The breeding season occurs in spring. Females give live birth during late summer; an average litter contains 3-20 young. They are precocial, which means they can hunt and move around within an hour or two after birth.

Females become sexually mature at three or four years of age, and males do so at two.



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