Desert Deaths Adders are members of the Acanthophis genus, highly venomous elapids with short and thick bodies, triangular heads, mobile fangs, and a thin tapering tail. They grow to lengths up to 70cm, with a snout to vent length of 62cm, and have a flattened appearance. Desert Death Adders are coloured brick-red, or yellow-reddish, with strong or inconspicuous yellow bands which are camouflaged with their surroundings. The tail tip is used as a lure to attract potential prey and is distinctively darker in colour. Their fangs are longer than most of Australia's venomous snakes.
The species was first described in 1898 by George Albert Boulenger.