Most Common Snakes of the Proserpine/Whitsunday Area
By Bradley Crossman

           Family Boidae

Carpet Python, Morelia spilota, Egglaying:
Mainly nocturnal. Not dangerous to humans. Feeds on mammals, reptiles, birds and frogs. Average length is 2 metres.
They have been known to exceed 4 metre.
The Carpet Python is found from rainforest on the east and northeast coasts and in semi-arid coastal and inland habitats.

Spotted Python
Spotted Python, Liasis maculosis, Egg-laying:
Not dangerous to humans. Mainly nocturnal. Feeds on small mammals, reptiles and birds. Average length 75cm, maximum 1 metre. Found in eastern to north-eastern Australia, from Cape York Peninsula to far northern N.S.W.

Photo by Ray Hoser

Black Headed Python
Black-headed Python, Aspidites melanocephalus, Egg laying.
Not dangerous to humans. Mainly nocturnal, feeds on small mammals, ground birds and reptiles, including venomous snakes. This python is found in the northeren half of australia. When cornered this snake will hiss a lot and raise it's head, but is rare to bite. Average length 1.5 metres, aproximate maximum length 2.5 metres.

Photo by Ray Hoser

Scrub Python photo supplied by Qld Parks & Wildlife Scrub Python / Amethystine Python, Morelia amethystina, Egg laying.
Not potentially dangerous, but ready biter. Due to size, could be harmful to small children.
I have come across this python only twice in eight years. Some herpetologists believe they are not in this area, but I know for a fact they are. To the untrained eye they look like a giant Carpet Python, To the enthusiast they are unmistakable, with large square like plates (scales) on top of their head, where as Carpet Pythons have small scales on the surface of their head.
The Scrub Python is found in north eastern Queensland and the islands of Torres Strait and New Guinea. Average length 3.5 to 5 metres. However, in 1948, halfway across the base of Cape York Peninsula in high country, a Scrub Python was shot that was said to have measured more than 8.5 metres long.
In 1970 Eric Worrell recorded a specimen that was 8.5 metres long from Greenhill, near Cairns! Some people may be sceptical about the existence of 8.5 metre scrub pythons, but I have no doubt that Eric Worrel's records would be accurate as he was a pioneer of snake capture and venom research in this country.
We have so much thick and untamed bush in Australia it would not surprise me if one day even larger specimens are found.
This species feeds on many different large vertibrates such as fowls, fruit bats and large specimens have been known to consume fully grown wallabies!

Photo by Queensland Parks & Wildlife
* The Black-headed python and the Scrub Python are rare to find in the Proserpine / Whitsunday area, but sightings have been reported.

        Family Colubridae

Tree snake Common Tree Snake. Dendrelaphis punctulata,
Active during the day. Not dangerous to humans. Feeds mainly on frogs, but also reptile eggs and small mammals.
Found on coastal and adjacent areas of northern and eastern Australia (also New Guinea).
Approximately 2 metres total length.

Photo by Ray Hoser

Brown tree snake
Brown Tree Snake , Boiga irregularis,
Nocturnal, rear fanged. Not dangerous to humans. Feeds on lizards, mammals and birds.
Found along coastal and adjacent areas of northern and eastern Australia (also New Guinea and Indonesia).
Approximately 1.2 metres total length.

Photo by Ray Hoser

        Family Elapidae

Keel back snake Keel-back or Freshwater Snake, Tropidonophis mairri,
Egg laying, Not potentially dangerous, but ready biter, but lacks venom.
This snake is the only known snake that eats cane toads without dying! It has immunity against the cane toad poison. It is a pity that more of our reptiles are not immune, then we would not have so many species diminishing.
Keel-backs are usually found close to water because of their fondness for eating frogs and cane toads. They are common along the coast of Queensland, Northern Territory, the Kimberleys in WA and the top of N.S.W. Active day or night.
Photo by Ray Hoser

Yellow faced whip snake

Yellow-faced Whip Snake Demansia psammophis,
Active during the day. Venomous, but only very large specimens could be dangerous to humans. Feeds mainly on small lizards. Found through most of continental Australia, except for the tropical north, from the eastern Kimberlys, Western Australia.
Total length 80cm.

Most Common Dangerous Snakes of the Proserpine/Whitsunday Area

* I must point out I come across these snakes much less often than Pythons and Tree Snakes and even though they are venomous they are just as important to nature as other animals. They are in fact very useful in keeping rat numbers down, like the pythons, therefore being an asset to the cane farmers.

Black whip snake Black Whip Snake, Demansia atra,
Egg laying , Dangerous, adult specimens to be treated with caution.
This snake is one of Australia's fastest moving snakes. Found along the coast and nearby areas of northern and north eastern Australia. The Black Whip snake grows to approximately a metre in length, although Eric Worrell (1970) recorded a specimen of nearly 2 metres.
It feeds on small lizards which it actively chases through the day.

Photo by Ray Hoser

Coastal Taipan Coastal Taipan Taipan Oxyranus scutellatus,
Egg laying, Dangerous.
Found eastern Qld to extreme northeastern NSW, northern part of the NT and Kimberley Division WA.
Feeds mainly on small mammals. This species is one that has benefited from agriculture, thriving on bandicoots and rats that inhabit the crops such as cane fields.
Total length approximately 1.5 metres. Eric Worrell recorded an 11ft specimen from Cape York.
Taipans have the longest fangs out of all the Australian snakes. A seven foot Taipan can have fangs half an inch long. These fangs are 4 times longer than that of a brown snake of the same body length.

Coastal Taipan

  This is a Coastal Taipan with eggs
  Photo by Ray Hoser

Common or Eastern Brown Snake

Eastern Brown Snake Psuedonaja textilis
Dangerous. Found eastern Australia from Cape York Peninsula, Qld to southeastern SA.
Feeds mainly on small mammals and reptiles. They can bite, poison and constrict their prey.
Approximately 1.5 metres total length. This species is another one that has benefited from agriculture, thriving on bandicoots and rats that inhabit crops.

Red bellied black snake
Red-bellied Black snake, Psuedechis porphyriacus
Gives birth to live young. The Red-bellied Black snake is found in Eastern Australia from far north Queensland to N.S.W., Victoria and south-east South Australia. This snake is usually found near swamps, creeks or marshlands. Usually feed on frogs, reptiles and small mammals.
There is a rapid decline of this species. I believe this is as a direct result of them eating cane toads, poisons the snake.
Commonly active during the day.

Common Death Adder Northern Death Adder, Acanthophis praelongus
Dangerous, This snake used to be abundant on the mainland in this area. This species has suffered as a direct result of poisoning from eating cane toads. In eight years I have not come across one!
Two of our islands, though, are rumored to be inhabited by this snake. Found in Northern Australia from the Kimberleys, WA to Cape York Peninsula, Queensland and New Guinea.
Average size 40cm, maximum size approximately 70cm.This snake is known to use it's worm like tail as a lure to attract small birds. They lie in wait under leaf litter with only their tail exposed and wriggle it like a worm

* It is very unfortunate that the cane toad is destroying nature's natural order. It is a problem that drastically needs a solution.

References: Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Harold G Cogger, Sixth Edition.
Australian Reptiles & Frogs. Australia's Dangerous Creatures, Readers Digest
Dangerous snakes of Australia & New Guinea, Eric Worrell
Reptiles of Australia, Eric Worrell
Wildlife of Tropical North Queensland, Queensland Museum

Other photos on this page (except where noted , by Ray Hoser & QWPS) are courtesy of the Queensland Museum web page. To visit their site click here

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