Death adders are found throughout most of Australia and in Irian Jiya / West Papua. Three major species have been identified: Acanthophis praelongus or the northern death adder (found north of the Tropic of Capricorn), A. pyrrhus (inhabits desert regions of central and Western Australia), and A. antarcticus (found in the rest of Australia, except Victoria and Tasmania). Death adders are mainly active at night.
Unlike most other snakes, death adders will not necessarily retreat when humans approach. This makes them more easily trodden upon or disturbed by the unwary. However, they are often less likely than other venomous snakes to strike unless actually touched , but great caution is still advised.
Death adders are readily identified by their short squat appearance. The head is broad and triangular, like that of a viper. The body is short and thick and the tail thinner and distinct from the body. Coloration is variable from region to region, but most death adders are banded to some degree. Their average length is approximately 0.65m and the maximum recorded length is 1.1m. The fangs are of death adder again resemble those of the vipersare quite - they are long (6-8mm) and are more mobile than those of other Australian venomous snakes. Their pupils are elliptical.
Prior to the introduction of antivenom, it is said that around 50% of death adder envenomations were fatal. Today, effective bites still result in paralysis which may be fatal. The average venom output is around 85mg with a maximum recorded output of 235mg. Death adder venom contains a post-synaptic neurotoxin, with negligible coagulant or myolytic activity. Although venom from some species may have more myotoxicity than others.
Death adders are ambush predators, who conceal themselves in leaves, sand or gravel. They then twitch the ends of their tails to attract prey. Their prey consists of frogs, birds, lizards, mice and rats.