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Zach at the Zoo: Meet the Inland Taipan

The most venomous snake in the world
Posted at 6:08 AM, Jun 13, 2024

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — In this week's edition of Zach at the Zoo, we are better introduced to Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium's inland taipans. These snakes are the most venomous in the world.

  • VIDEO: We go behind the scenes at the desert dome to get a closer look at the snakes.
  • Omaha's Henry Doorly Zoo is one of two Association of Zoos & Aquariums members in the US to have the animal.
  • The zoo became the first in the country to successfully breed them in 2022.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

It’s an animal you can only find in two AZA (Association of Zoos & Aquariums) accredited zoos in the country – the inland taipan.

“They like to call them the deadliest snake in the world,” Lead Keeper of Desert Dome Reptiles Matt Tietgen said.

However, that’s not true.

“They are the most venomous snake in the world, but if you call them the deadliest snake, you’re technically not correct,” he told us. “There are actually no recorded human fatalities from inland taipans.”

In fact --

“They’re actually known to be somewhat tame around humans, even wild inland taipans, they don’t tend to strike at you or anything.”

Tietgen – says the tests to determine how venomous a snake is are done on mice.

“The amount of toxin it takes to kill 50 mice.”

Rodents are what these snakes typically eat in their natural habitat in Australia.

“And that’s a really dry, decollate area,” he said. “Everything in that habitat lives underground because there is no cover above ground. So they live in these deep fissures that are made in the dry soil.”

Which could be part of the reason the inland taipan tops the list.

“So, they actually developed this super toxic venom against rodents, so they basically kill instantly.”

The inland taipan always has a darker colored head – but it is the only known snake species that changes the color of its body throughout the seasons.

“So, in the winter months they’re going to be dark brown, almost black, to absorb more sun and heat their body up faster,” Tietgen explained.

“Whereas in the summer time, they start to turn into a golden yellow to reflect the sun, the opposite they want to do in the winter, because it gets so hot there they don’t want to go out of their burrow and get cooked instantly.”

Four of these snakes call Omaha home.

Two of them – still very new.

“We became the first AZA institution to reproduce the inland taipan,” Tietgen said.

Even if you’re not a snake person – come on! These little ones are pretty cute.

And if you are a snake person – even the big ones are lovable.

“So this is why I don’t understand why people are so scared of snakes. I mean, just a curious little animal is all they are,” Tietgen said.

Either way – you can check out the big and little ones in their separate exhibits -- inside the desert dome.