The Inland Taipan, small scaled snake or Fierce Snake (Oxyuranus Microlepidotus) would be the worlds most dangerous snake if more people shared its habitiat in central Australia. Thankfully most of the people who spend much time in these areas are only there to catch these adorable elapids. It can reach lengths of up to two metres, has extremely toxic venom and can leap twice it's body length from standstill.

The following writeup on the Inland Taipan is an extract from "Australian Reptiles", written by Harald Ehmann and produced with the assistance of the Australian Museum.

"Although the Inland Taipan has the most potent venom of any land snake on earth, it is usually quite shy and has a placid disposition. It occurs in the drainages of the cooper and Diamantina creeks and their tributaries and, at least in the very recent past, also in the drainages of the Bulloo, Paroo, Warrego and lower Darling Rivers. There are two early European records of specimens from the latter more eastern drainages but no further specimens have been found. It is possible that represented outlier populations that have since become extinct, or that the eastern and southern range of the species has contracted. Since European settlement, changes in land use and subtle climatic changes have made these areas unsuited to the Inland Taipan. The back, sides and tail may be buff-grey to greyish brown, buff-brown, brown or reddish dark brown with many individual scales having a wide blackish lower anterior (proximal) edge. These dark-marked scales tend to occur in diagonal rows so that he marks align to form broken chevrons of variable length that are inclined backward and downward. The lowermost lateral scales often have an anterior yellow edge. The dorsal scales are smooth and without keels. The round-Snouted head and neck are usually noticeably darker than he body (glossy black in winter, dark brown in summer). The eye is of average size with a blackish brown iris and without a noticeable coloured rim around the pupil.

The Inland Taipan shelters in rat burrows (probably having eaten the original owners), in deep soil cracks and sink holes (gilgais), and sometimes in rock crevices and deep fissures where outcrops occur near flood plains. It feeds on small to medium-sized mammals - the House Mouse, Mus musculus; the Kultarr, Antechinomys laniger, and other small dasyurids; but mainly on rodents like the Long-haired Rat, Rattus villisissimus, which is usually cornered in a burrow or soil crack and then bitten several times in rapid succession without releasing the grip. The extremely potent venom acts so quickly that the snake can hold the prey until it succumbs without itself suffering injury; sometimes it also clamps the prey in a bend of the body. In times of plenty, the Inland Taipan can become quite fat; during prolonged drought, it can starve and become remarkably thin. It is usually most active on the surface in the early half of the morning when it basks and forages in and near soil cracks at ground level. In cooler weather, it is also active in the afternoon; in hot weather it becomes nocturnal.

Males and females grow to about the same size. The Female lays nine to twelve eggs. In one captive study eggs hatched in 66 days. It is placid and shy and may not attempt to escape when approached quietly. If blocked from escape and aroused, it holds the forebody and neck in somewhat cringing, tight, low, flat S-shaped curves with the head pointing straight at the offender. It usually makes a single bite or a few fast, multiple grip bites.

The Inland Taipan can inflict a potentially fatal bite."

So wear thick socks and be polite to the legless, possums