Name: Coastal Taipan (Oxyuranus scutellatus)
Other name: common taipan
Classification and Taxonomy:
Distribution: The coastal taipan occurs only in Australia and the island of New Guinea, which comprises two Indonesian provinces on the west side of the island and the nation of Papua New Guinea on the east side of the island. Found in northern and eastern Australia, the coastal taipan, despite its name, can live in habitats hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest beach. Its geographical range extends from north-western Western Australia, the Northern Territory, across Cape York Peninsula and down eastern Queensland into northern New South Wales (as far south as Grafton).
Habitat: The coastal taipan can be found in a variety of different habitats. It can be found in warm, wetter temperate to tropical coastal regions, in monsoon forests, wet and dry sclerophyll forests and woodlands, and in natural and artificial grassy areas, including grazing paddocks and disused rubbish tips.
Behavior: The coastal taipan is primarily diurnal, being mostly active in the early to mid-morning period, although it may become nocturnal in hot weather conditions. When hunting, it appears to actively scan for prey using its well-developed eyesight, and is often seen traveling with its head raised slightly above ground level. Once prey is detected, the snake "freezes" before hurling itself forward and issuing several quick bites. The prey is released and allowed to stagger away. This strategy minimizes the snake's chance of being harmed in retaliation, particularly by rats, which can inflict lethal damage with their long incisors and claws. It is not a confrontational snake and will seek to escape any threat. When cornered, though, it can become very aggressive and may strike repeatedly.
Diet: The coastal taipan's diet consists entirely of rats, mice, bandicoots, and various species of birds.
Venom: Oxyuranus scutellatus is the world's third-most venomous terrestrial snake. Its venom contains primarily taicatoxin, a highly potent neurotoxin affecting the nervous system and the blood's ability to clot. Bite victims may experience headache, nausea/vomiting, collapse, convulsions, paralysis, internal bleeding, myolysis (destruction of muscle tissue), and kidney damage. In cases of severe envenomation, death can occur as early as 30 minutes after being bitten, but the average is around 2.5 hours.
Dymadex's blogs on reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles are tetrapod animals characterized by scaly skin. Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates characterized by smooth skin.
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