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Genus/Species

 

Austrelaps spp., Australian copperheads

Clinical entries

Species

  • 1. Austrelaps labialis
  • 2. Austrelaps ramsayi
  • 3. Austrelaps superbus

 

Up to the 1990s these three species were all included under A. superbus.

 

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Elapidae; Elapinae/Hydrophiinae

Common names

Australian copperheads, Diamond snakes, Australischer Kupferköpfe

 

  • 1. Adelaide Hills copperhead
  • 2. Highlands copperhead
  • 3. Common copperhead

Distribution

Southeastern Australia. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.

 

  Map 34 Austrelaps spp.

 

Biology

Of the Australian snakes, copperheads are the best adapted to a cold climate. Their habitats range from low-lying swamps to subalpine regions of Victoria and Tasmania.

These animals are diurnal and can reach a length of 1.2–1.7 m. When approached, they hiss loudly and flatten their neck. Nonetheless, they are not very willing to defend themselves and when truly threatened often only engage in mock bites (darting forwards without biting).

 

Risk

Their short venom fangs, small available quantities of venom and the moderate potency of their venom are factors which place this species towards the bottom of the list of the most dangerous Australian snakes. Envenoming is rare and only isolated cases have been described.

Literature (biological)

Cogger 1986, Mirtschin et al. 1990, Sutherland 1983, White 1995a, O'Shea 2005