Acanthophis rugosus Papuan Death Adder
Also known as:
Rough-scaled Death Adder
Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory, AustraliaNovember 17, 2009
Papuan Death Adder (Acanthophis rugosus) Papuan Death Adder (Acanthophis rugosus)
These snakes look like vipers, but like Australia’s other terrestrial venomous snakes, they are actually elapids. The ones in this area were formerly classified as Acanthophis praelongus, but the range of that species in Australia has now been restricted to the Cape York Peninsula (both A. rugosus and A. praelongus also inhabit New Guinea).

This is a snake that you don’t want to accidentally step on. They are highly venomous and account for a large percentage of the serious snake bites in Australia, mostly involving people stepping on snakes that they didn’t see. Fortunately they are also slow-moving, and when disturbed they tend to nearly instantly flatten their bodies and curl into a semi-coiled position, so they are easy to photograph once you have seen one and not trodden upon it. This one was moving slowly across the road at night, so there was little chance of being trodden upon.

I’ve written up an account of this three-week trip to Australia here.

Adelaide River, Northern Territory, AustraliaNovember 18, 2009
Papuan Death Adder (Acanthophis rugosus) Papuan Death Adder (Acanthophis rugosus)
The next night we saw another one that got even flatter and more coiled.
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