Snake bites in Australia that cause deaths are less common than they once were, because of increased medical knowledge and anti-venom that is better and more available. Around half of all deaths from snakebites are caused by brown snakes[unreliable source?]. Australia is the only continent where venomous snakes constitute the majority of species. The Eastern brown snake is responsible for perhaps 60% of deaths caused by snakebite.
Although Australian snakes can be very venomous, comparatively little is known about the protein compositions of venoms from Australian snakes, compared to those of Asia and America. Wide access to antivenom and adequate medical care has made deaths exceedingly rare with only a few fatalities each year. Australian snakes are known to possess potent venom: approximately 5 of the world's top 10 drop for drop most venomous snakes, that have been tested by LD50 in mice, inhabit the continent. However, it must also be pointed out that Australian venomous snakes tend to have smaller venom yields and fang lengths when compared with venomous snakes from other continents and that the test involving drop for drop toxicity to mice may not represent drop for drop toxicity to other animals (including humans).
The estimated incidence of snakebites annually in Australia is between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 0.03 per 100,000 per year. Between 1979 and 1998 there were 53 deaths from snakes, according to data obtained from the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
Between 1942 and 1950 there were 56 deaths from snakebite recorded in Australia. Of 28 deaths in the 1945-49 period, 18 occurred in Queensland, 6 in New South Wales, 3 in Western Australia and 1 in Tasmania. The majority of snake bites occur when people handle snakes in an attempt to relocate or kill them.
Below is a list of fatal snake bites that occurred in Australia in reverse chronological order. The list omits snake bite-related deaths where the actual cause of death was not an unprovoked snake bite. Omitted incidents include cases where someone died from falling after receiving a bite, or where a person deliberately provoked or handled a snake.