Snakes Harmful and HarmlessTM

The Western Desert Taipan or Central Ranges Taipan

(Oxyuranus temporalis)

The third Australian Taipan

Brian Bush

Several specimens of this slender snake are now known after the holotype was collected on 22nd September 2006 to the east of the Walter James Range, Western Australia. It is a female measuring 97 cm, although we expect this species to attain close to two metres in length. We know little about it's ecology apart from the collection data: it was captured on a hot sunny day crossing a dirt road on a deep sandy flat with open low mallee and grevillea over diverse shrubbery dominated by spinifex.

Body colour light brown to dark brown with or without darker olive-grey variegations. Head creamy-brown to yellowish-brown and much paler than body. Belly yellowish-white with slight spotting anteriorly.

The gut contents of the holotype suggest it is mammal-specific in diet like its two congeners.

We expect this snake to be dangerously venomous, as are the other two taipans currently known: Coastal and Inland.

Western Desert Taipan. The holotype (WAM R166250) from near Walter James Range.
Photo by Bruce Budrey

Note the very pale head
Photo by Bruce Budrey

Western Desert Taipan. Photographed in life near Ilkurlka, WA.

Brian Bush with Western Desert Taipan.
Photographed during Oct., 2014 desert expedition.

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