How toxic is the Taipan poison



by LORENZO CIOTTI

How toxic is the Taipan poison

The inland taipan is often believed to be the most venomous land snake. With an LD50 of 0.025 mg/kg, it is approximately 7 times more venomous than a Mojave rattlesnake and 50 times more venomous than a common cobra. The lethal dose calculations are made on mice, the tendency is, however, perhaps emphasized in this species of snake, as it is accustomed to feed almost exclusively on rodents.

The calculated LD50 values are not likely to apply to non-mammalian species, and may also be inaccurate for other mammals than mice, or other rodents. The venom from a single bite of the inland taipan is likely to be potent enough to kill about 250,000 rats, the equivalent of 100 men or 2 male elephants.

This species generally lives in sparsely populated areas. Like many snakes, inland taipans are generally shy and usually won't bite unless threatened or in the breeding season, when they can become very aggressive. No fatalities have been attributed to this species, and all known bites have been from people holding them in captivity or actively seeking them out in the open.

The common taipan is the third most venomous snake on Earth. The danger posed by the coastal taipan was brought to Australian public awareness in 1950, when young herpetologist Kevin Budden was fatally bitten while attempting to extract the first available sample of venom for research of an antidote.

However, anti-venom treatment is extremely effective if done promptly, when the damage from the various toxins is still limited.

There are three types of Taipan

In Australia there are three species: the common taipan, the less common inland taipan and Oxyuranus temporalis discovered in Australia in 2007.

The common taipan is divided into two subspecies, the coastal continental taipan and the Papuan taipan which is native to the southern coast of Papua New Guinea. Their diet consists primarily of small rodents, especially rats and bandicoots.

The Coastal Taipan is usually dark brown, fading to a lateral cream colour, although they are light colored when juvenile. The Papuan taipan is black or purplish-grey, with a copper-colored stripe down its back. They are found easily in sugarcane fields due to the abundance of rats, their main food source.