Common Death Adder

Acanthophis antarcticus

Death Adder (Acanthophis antarcticus) The Common Death Adder, Acanthophis antarcticus, an ambush predator. Acanthophis antarcticus distribution


The Common Death Adder has a stocky body with an arrow-shaped head.  The tail tip is thin and ends with a short spine.  The back can be shades of grey to reddish-brown and is usually marked with lighter bands.  The belly is greyish to cream.  Grows to 75cm.  Midbody scale rows 21–23; ventrals 110–135; anal single; subcaudals, mostly single, some divided at tail-tip 35–60.


Found in eastern Australia (excluding far north and south) and southern SA and WA.


Lives in wet and dry eucalypt forests, woodlands and coastal heaths.


Usually sits motionless concealed in leaf-litter.  This species is encountered both day and night.


This is a dangerously venomous snake with strongly neurotoxic venom.  It is responsible for human deaths.  If bitten, apply first aid and seek urgent medical attention.  First aid procedure for any snakebite from the Australian Venom Research Unit.


Feeds on frogs, small reptiles, birds and mammals.  Cane Toads are sometimes taken (with fatal results for the adder).  The tail tip is used as a lure to attract prey within striking distance.


Gives birth to live young (up to 42 young) between December and March.  The newborn adders are around 12 cm from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail (snout-vent length).

Similar species:

This species superficially resembles De Vis’ Banded Snake, Denisonia devisi, and the Ornamental Snake, Denisonia maculata.

Additional Information:

Several other species of death adders also occur in Queensland (for example,  A. praelongus – northern Qld,  A. rugosus   and  A. pyrrhus – western Qld ) that are also dangerously venomous and should be treated with extreme caution. 

The caudal lure of a Common Death Adder. The caudal lure of a Common Death Adder.

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