Friday, November 20, 2009

Snakes alive

Red Bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)1794
by James Sowerby (1757-1822)
'Zoology and botany of New Holland and the adjacent Isles'State Library of Victoria

The hot weather has brought out all the reptiles from hibernation and the most common local snake is the red bellied black . Just in the past week a local man was bitten by one when he went to pick up his surfboard which he had left on a grassy headland. The snake was hiding underneath the board. A friend found a 1 metre one in his garden sadly killed after getting entangled in some garden netting. When caught in this way, this snake releases a strong smelling fluid from its vent as an auxiliary means of defence. Though venomous, its bite is not fatal and it often only strikes in a half-hearted fashion and mostly in bluff. But even a small bite can be painful due to the prevailing haemotoxic elements in the venom. The reason it is fairly common is that it can produce up to 40 live young which are about 20cm (8inches) long. It is also a skilful swimmer and can even stay under water for a period of time. If you come across one in your garden it is best to telephone the animal rescue service (Wires) for help with relocating it back to bushland.


  1. Very interesting post about snakes and ladders, and witty too. I come across rat snakes quite often in my garden, but its bite is not half-hearted!I have played the board game Snakes and Ladders as a child, on a similar board in my grandmother's house.Those antique boards are no longer available.

  2. Ian, I have never been a fan of snakes. I distinctly remember, as a youngster, coming across a diamondback rattlesnake (the largest venomous snake in North America) hiding in a stack of lumber and almost getting bitten, until my father swiftly pulling me away. Since then, even pictures of snakes give me the 'willies'!

    Interest game... there is a present day game by Hasbro called "Chutes & Ladder" ~ not quites as scary looking.

  3. Enjoyed this post! I like to have snakes in the garden most here are good to have. The bad ones Copperheads (I have only found dead on the road here) produce offspring in their first year and can grow a large population fairly quickly. The other are rattlesnakes, people tend to kill them when they find them. Bad news is rattlesnakes take 5 years before they can reproduce.

  4. The Florida snake expert puts it this way: All snakes are not poisonous, but all snakes may be dangerous because one can react to the bite the way we react to a wasp sting if allergic to the snake's saliva.

    Take care.