The death adder Acanthophis antarcticus (Shaw & Nodder, 1802) in Victoria: historical records and contemporary uncertainty

Nick Clemann, Timothy Stranks, Rebecca Carland, Jane Melville, Bianca op den Brouw and Peter Robertson

Memoirs of Museum Victoria Vol 77 p. 29–40 (2018)



The south-eastern distributional limit of many Australian species coincides with northern, and sometimes far-eastern, Victoria. In the mid-19th century, Blandowski’s Lower Murray Expedition sought to study the natural history of this area, specifically north and north-western Victoria. The expedition collected many specimens that are now registered with Museums Victoria, including species that are now extinct, extinct in the state or greatly reduced in distribution. During the expedition, a specimen of the death adder Acanthophis antarcticus was collected at Lake Boga in north-western Victoria. During the 20th and 21st centuries, there has been debate about whether this species persists in Victoria. We review early records of this species, including voucher specimens held by Museums Victoria, one of which we confirm as the specimen collected during Blandowski’s Lower Murray Expedition. We also explore recent claims of sightings of this species in Victoria. We collate names for the death adder used by Aboriginal people in northern and north-western Victoria. Death adders undoubtedly occurred in north-western Victoria in the 19th century and were known to the Aboriginal people, but it is probable that they no longer occur in that part of the state. It is possible that death adders persist in far East Gippsland, east of the Wallagaraugh River, although no substantiating material, such as photographs or specimens, has been collected in that area.


Clemann, N., Stranks, T., Carland, R., Melville, J., op den Brouw, B. and Robertson, P. 2018. The death adder Acantophis antarcticus (Shaw & Nodder, 1802) in Victoria: historical records and contemporary uncertainty. Memoirs of Museum Victoria 77: 29–40.

Publication date: 1 MAY 2018

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