Did you know that there are twenty-seven species of terrestrial snake found in the Brisbane area? Or at least that is what they found at the last count!
So, what snakes can you expect to find in suburban backyards and perhaps even in the city centre area?
The most found snake in the Brisbane and Moreton Bay area is the carpet python. You can also find the common tree snake, keelback and yellow-faced whip snake. There are also a fair number of white-crowned snakes and eastern small-eyed snakes.
Are you aware that there are also some highly venomous snakes found in the greater Brisbane area? These include Eastern brown snake and red-bellied black snakes. You may come across the odd small-eyed snake, Stephens banded snake, and rough scaled snakes.
There are also occasional sightings of death adders and tiger snakes. Of all these snakes though, only the eastern brown, red-bellied black snake and small-eyed snake are commonly found in our suburbs.
Front-fanged venomous snakes (family Elapidae)
Although this family of snakes does include highly venomous snakes, the venom of most is non-life-threatening to us. That is of course unless you’re one of the few that has an allergic reaction. The venom is modified saliva used to immobilise or kill and digest their prey. Sometimes a snake uses both toxic venom and constriction to disarm their prey.
Snakes that are in this family include:
- Eastern tiger snake.
- Eastern small-eyed snake.
- Red-naped snake.
- Brown tree snake.
- Carpet python.
Common Death Adder (Acanthophis antarcticus)
The common death adder is variable in colour. It usually displays contrasting cross-bands. The almost triangular head is quite large, and it has a stubby body. Death adders have a thin rat-like tail which ends in a soft curved spine with a cream or black tip.
With a diet consisting of reptiles, frogs, mammals, and birds it has a clever trick of using its tail to lure in its dinner. It is rare almost to the point of absence in Brisbane but it has been spotted at both Mt Nebo and Mt Glorious. The usual size of one of these fellas is 0.4 metres but they have been known to reach up to 1m in length.
Eastern small-eyed snake (Cryptophis nigrescens)
This snake looks a lot like the red-bellied black snake. It has a shiny black back and sides and a pink underside. He will often have a row of dark spots. Unlike the Red-bellied black snake, the pink on his belly does not extend to the sides. His eyes are tiny, and that gives rise to his name. They are difficult to spot, perhaps because of their dark coloring.
He will often be discovered hunkering down in dark areas particularly loving areas like underneath sheets of tin. He loves to hide under rocks and the beneath bark on fallen logs. Small reptiles are his main food source and occasionally, he will tuck into a frog or two. This snake is one snake that will often be spotted across Brisbane. He will usually grow to an average length of around 0.5m.
Red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
The red-bellied black snake has a shiny black back, distinct thin red line on the flanks (which may vary shades from dark red to almost white) and a creamy underbelly. You will find these snakes in a variety of different types of habitats. They prefer to be near water and often will be found in wetter vegetation communities. They are usually more active during the day and can be found basking in sunny patches, in the grass.
Red-bellied black snakes will choose frogs as their first choice for dinner but will also be tempted to eat smaller mammals and reptiles. They were once very common across Brisbane but their love of preying on Cane Toads has seen their numbers plummet. They are now very much restricted to the cooler areas north and south of Brisbane. They will usually grow to a length of around 1.5m.
Black-bellied swamp snake or marsh snake (Hemiaspis signata)
Venomous—treat bites from adult snakes with caution
The marsh snake is olive to grey above with a grey to black underside. This snake has two narrow pale lines on each side of the face. These run along the upper lip and from the eye down onto the neck. The Black-bellied swamp snake feeds on frogs and skinks. The females can give birth to up to 20 live young each time. You will normally find this specimen in wetter areas. The preferred habitats include:
They can be found across the entire Brisbane region. A tiddler of a snake they will usually grow to around 50cm.
What to do if you come across a snake
Please, be aware that under no circumstances should you ever approach a snake. Do not make the mistake of assuming that it will not hurt you. It is fair to say that as a general rule, a snake will not attack. However, the moment many of our resident snakes feel threatened by you and perceive that escape isn’t possible, they will have a go! Best to admire from a distance.
Our advice is that you should always assume you are in trouble if you have been bitten. Even if the bite area is not painful you should call 000. The operator will tell you what your best course of action should be. It is well worth familiarising yourself and family members with the Pressure Immobilisation Technique (PIT). This will buy you considerable time by slowing down the movement of venom.
As professional snake catchers in Brisbane. It is fair to say that we are in a great position to confirm that very few people get bitten by snakes. Usually, people who come across a snake are sensible and give it a wide berth. If the snake is in your home or you are worried about pets or children being scared or hurt then give Pat a call, 0407 129 260. He is based in Warner, but he and his peers cover the whole of the Brisbane region.