26 Interesting Facts About The Tiger Snake

There’s something about snakes that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up.

The way they curl to “walk” around isn’t a sight that most people can appreciate. (Perhaps that’s you too?)

Let’s try to get over that fear as in this post, you’ll meet one of the scariest snakes of them all as we present you with the ultimate list of facts about the tiger snake.

1. Where do tiger snakes live?

Tiger snakes can mostly be found in the southern parts of Australia. They also live on the coastal islands of southern Australia such as Tasmania.

Yes, they live together on the same island with another scary animal in Australia, the Tasmanian devil!

A tiger snake on a rock in Wandong State Forest
A tiger snake on a rock in Wandong State Forest / Source

2. They are a distinct species with many subspecies

The tiger snake is included in the family of the Elapidae, a group of large venomous snakes that live in tropical and subtropical regions in many parts of the world.

This includes terrestrial species in Asia, Australia, Africa, and the Americas. There are also marine snakes in this family that live in the Pacific and Indian Oceans.

The most famous snake of them all in the Elapidae family is the King Cobra, the largest venomous snake on the planet.

King Cobra

3. How are tiger snakes defined?

The scientific name of the tiger snake is “Notechis.” They have been included in the genus Notechis since 1896 when Belgian-British zoologist George Albert Boulenger first described the tiger snake and gave it this name.

The mainland tiger snake living in Australia is referred to as the “Notechis scutatus.”

Notechis Scutatus
The Notechis Scutatus / Source

4. Why are they called tiger snakes?

As you can probably guess, the reason they are called tiger snakes is that they have a similar pattern on their skin.

Tiger snakes have district stripes on their bodies that resemble the stripes of a tiger. At least, that’s the case for most of the subspecies in the Notechis genus as not all species have distinct stripes.

facts about tiger snakes
Tiger snake with characteristic stripes / Source

5. The colors of tiger snakes can vary a lot

Even though most tiger snakes can be recognized by the unique stripes on their bodies, their colors can vary a lot.

Most of the tiger snakes are olive, brown, yellow, or black. Most species have the same color at their underside though which is yellow or orange.

black tiger snake
Tiger snakes can be jet-black / Source

6. Are tiger snakes venomous?

Yes, tiger snakes are amongst the most venomous snakes on the planet. Its venom possesses very strong neurotoxins, coagulants, hemolysins, and mycotoxins.

One thing is sure, if you come across one of these, make sure to get out of there straight away!

7. What happens after a tiger snake bite?

A bit from a tiger snake has the potential to actually kill human beings. The first thing that happens is feeling localized pain, followed by numbness. After that, breathing problems occur which eventually results in paralysis.

There’s an antivenom available that can easily solve the issue, but the mortality rate of untreated bites is about 40-60% according to a study.

8. How big are tiger snakes?

The size of the tiger snake is probably something that won’t immediately scare you as these aren’t huge snakes.

The adult tiger snake can grow up to 1.4 meters (4.5 ft) though but is mostly shorter. Even though very unusual, there have been cases of tiger snakes growing up to 2 meters (6.6 ft) as well.

Tiger snake size
Tiger snakes aren’t huge / JAW / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

9. You can see when they are about to attack

Tiger snakes aren’t the fearsome predators that will stalk you to attack. In fact, when they see you, the first thing they will most probably do is trying to get out of there.

When provoked, however, the tiger snake won’t simply roll over and call it a day. It will defend itself and this can be seen by it laying flat with its head raised.

This is the attack position which means they are ready for some action if the situation requires it. You will most definitely hear it too from the hissing noises it makes.

facts about the tiger snake
Tiger snake in attack position / Teneche / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/deed.en

10. What do tiger snakes eat?

Just like any other snake species in the world, tiger snakes are carnivores that hunt small prey. What they eat exactly depends on where they live.

The usual diet of the tiger snake can consist of fish, lizards, frogs, rats, mice, birds, tadpoles, and just about any other small animal that they can swallow hole.

If food gets scarce, they can even climb trees to grab prey and if things get really bad, they even eat other snakes or even their own species!

11. Tiger snakes like coastal areas

Just about all tiger snakes can be found in the coastal areas of southern Australia. These areas are abundant in prey so they love to create a territory in wetlands or creeks.

Their range extends from the south of Western Australia through to South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, and the islands off the coast of southern Australia.

Tiger snake in coastal area / Source

12. Female tiger snakes give birth to a lot of babies

Tiger snakes usually mate in the springtime when the temperature starts getting a bit hotter again. This allows the females to give birth in the summer.

On average, the female tiger snake gives birth to about 20 to 30 live young, which is pretty astonishing. On one rare occasion, 64 young tiger snakes were born at once!

13. This is the tiger snake’s closest relative

With the tiger being classified in the family of the Elipadae, they have several relatives who possess similar characteristics. Some of these include cobras, mambas, adders, kraits, coral snakes, sea snakes, and many more.

A study conducted in 2016, however, has shown that the closest relative of the tiger snake is in fact the rough-scaled snake, another highly venomous Australian Elapid.

rough-scaled snake
Rough-scaled snake / Donald Fischer / https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/1.0/

14. Tiger snakes living on islands have a unique feature

Tiger snakes that live on islands, such as the Chappell Island tiger snake, have a specific feature that distinguishes them from mainland tiger snakes.

It appears that their heads are much larger. They appear to have evolved to be able to swallow larger prey.

Prey on the small islands is much more scarce, so these tiger snakes have to hunt larger prey such as birds. This requires them to stretch their heads a bit more than when swallowing a mouse for example.

Tiger snake on Chappel Island
A tiger snake on Chappel Island south of Victoria, Australia / Wiki Commons

15. How long do tiger snakes live?

The expected life expectancy of tiger snakes is about 10 to 15 years.

16. Getting a tiger snake as a pet is not a good idea

The beauty of these animals, in particular the patterns on their skin, might tempt some people to keep them in their house as a pet. That’s simply not a good idea.

These are wild and highly venomous animals that love to roam around for prey. So putting them into a glass box will agitate them and lash out the moment the box is opened.

Can you hold a tiger snake as a pet? Most definitely not.

Keeping a tiger snake as a pet is not a good idea
Keeping a tiger snake as a pet is not a good idea.

17. Tiger snake bites are pretty common in Australia

In a study conducted between 2005 and 2015, it was discovered that 17% of all snake bites in Australia were caused by tiger snakes.

The study has also shown that out of the 119 bites, 4 ended up being fatal for the victim. Luckily, antivenom is readily available so a lethal outcome is uncommon if the victim gets the treatment needed.

18. Tiger snakes are protected animals

Tiger snakes are protected animals in Australia, and you can even get a hefty fine of up to $7,500 when injuring or killing a tiger snake.

Obviously, this doesn’t include moments that you are under attack or feel threatened.

Because of this regulation, tiger snakes are not endangered and are listed as species of “Least Concern.”

19. This video shows the life of a tiger snake can be dangerous

Tiger snakes aren’t just hunters, they can also end up as prey!

The video below shows how a tiger snake gets attacked by a brown snake, and ends up being eaten.

Both these snakes are highly venomous and unfortunately for the tiger snake in the video, the brown snake got the first bite.

Quick facts about the tiger snake

  • 20. The fangs of the tiger snake are about 3.5 – 5mm (0.13-0.19 in) in length.
  • 21. They don’t have any problem moving through the water as they are good swimmers.
  • 22. Even though tiger snakes are recognized for having tiger-like stripes on their skin, not all tiger snakes actually have these.
  • 23. The venom they release when attacking their prey is not just intended to kill it, but also to help with digesting the food they just swallowed whole.
  • 24. Tiger snakes desperately need the sun in order to raise their body temperature.
  • 25. They’re only active at night if the temperature is warm enough. In cooler months they prefer to hide in a shelter and keep warm.
  • 26. Tiger snakes are known to be one of the most venomous snakes in the world!
Tiger snakes are extremely venomous / Source

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