The Coastal Taipan occurs only in Australia and the island of New Guinea, which comprises two Indonesian provinces on the west side of the island and the nation of Papua New Guinea on the east side of the island.
Found in northern and eastern Australia, the Coastal Taipan, despite its name, can live in habitats hundreds of kilometers away from the nearest beach. Its geographical range extends from north-western Western Australia, the Northern Territory, across Cape York Peninsula and down eastern Queensland into northern New South Wales (as far south as Grafton). However, the coastal taipan is not found in regions where the maximum winter temperature is below 20 °C (68 °F). The second subspecies (Oxyuranus scutellatus canni ) is found throughout the island of New Guinea, with higher concentrations of the snake being found in the nation of Papua New Guinea.
The Coastal Taipan feeds solely on warm-blooded animals such as mammals and birds, and its diet consists entirely of rats, mice, bandicoots and various species of birds
The Coastal Taipan is primarily diurnal, being mostly active in the early to mid-morning period, although it may become nocturnal in hot weather conditions. When hunting, it appears to actively scan for prey using its well-developed eyesight, and is often seen traveling with its head raised slightly above ground level. Once prey is detected, the snake "freezes" before hurling itself forward and issuing several quick bites. The prey is released and allowed to stagger away. This strategy minimizes the snake’s chance of being harmed in retaliation, particularly by rats, which can inflict lethal damage with their long incisors and claws. It is not a confrontational snake and will seek to escape any threat. When cornered, though, it can become very aggressive and may strike repeatedly.