Australia has a rich and highly diverse snake fauna.  Five families are present:

All of these families occur in Queensland.

Western Taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus
The Western Taipan, Oxyuranus microlepidotus, the world's most
venomous land snake. Photograph by Steve Wilson.

What are snakes?

It is difficult to define snakes as they fall with lizards in an assemblage called the squamates. Technically, snakes are just another group of limbless lizards. The characters that we commonly associate with snakes (elongate body, limblessness, venom, forked tongue) are all found in one group of lizards or another although snakes have taken some of these attributes to the extreme.

As a group, snakes have completely lost all trace of front limbs and the girdles associated with them – none of the lizards have done this.  The pelvic girdle has been reduced to a pair of small, floating bones and the femur, tipped with a claw, is still present in pythons. 

Snakes are typically long and thin and have small heads.


For positive identification of a snake, contact us


Medical advice is available from the Poisons Information Centre, phone 13 1126.

First aid procedure for any snakebite from the Australian Venom Research Unit.

Read about Survivors of Taipan Bite.

Queensland Museum's Find out about... is proudly supported by the Thyne Reid Foundation and the Tim Fairfax Family Foundation.