Significance to Humans

The Death Adder is an ambush predator - meaning that it will lay camoflaged and still in leaf litter or other suitable areas waiting for prey to come within striking distance. The Death Adder is one of the fastest known striking snakes. It also has comparatively long fangs, up to around 8mm. 

Despite the short stubby appearance of this snake, it is very capable of twisting around to bite anyone who attempts to handle it. Do not attempt to handle this snake.

The common death adder venom contains highly toxic neurotoxin which can cause paralysis or even death. It can deliver the fastest strike among all venomous snakes recorded in Australia.

General Description

The common death adder (Acanthophis antarcticus), is a species of death adder native to Australia. It is one of the most venomous land snakes in Australia and the world. While, unlike its sister adder species, the common death adder remains widespread, it is facing increased threat from the ongoing Australian cane toad invasion. Unlike the common or European adder (Vipera berus),[1] the common death adder is a member of the Elapidae family, rather than the Viperidae family of snakes, which are not found in Australia.

Average Length

Usually 50cm of less, but some specimens up to 100cm are known.

Habitat in Sydney Region

Common death adders are found in forests, woodlands, grasslands and heaths of the eastern coast of Australia. The death adder is a master of camouflage, due to its band stripes, hiding beneath loose leaf litter and debris in woodland, shrubland and grassland.

General Habits


Common death adders eat small mammals and birds as a primary diet. Unlike other snakes, the common death adder lies in wait for its prey (often for many days) until a meal passes. It covers itself with leaves—making itself inconspicuous—and lies coiled in ambush, twitching its grub-like tail close to its head as a lure. When an animal approaches to investigate the movement, the death adder quickly strikes, injecting its venom and then waits for the victim to die before eating it. The death adder is not aggressive and less of a threat to humans.

Local distribution

Throughout Sydney

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