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The Eastern Brown Snake

Pseudonaja texilis

By Rhianna Blackthorn

Images By Tony Kilmurray
& Sue Ulyatt

The Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja texilis) has the second most deadly toxin of all land snakes, and is considered extremely dangerous. Using a venom that is strongly neurotoxic and haemotoxic, they kill prey by envenomate and restriction. Responsible for the most deaths resulting from snake bite, the Eastern Brown now accounts for only one or two deaths a year as a result of effective treatment, and first aid education. Their status remains stable, and are classified as common. It has even been suggested that their numbers are on the increase in most areas.


Appearance and Characteristics


The name "Brown Snake" is misleading. Brown snakes range in colour from cream to rustic reds and black, and can be patterned from bands to spots. In fact, there are as many combinations as imaginable. Juveniles often go through several colours until they reach their adult colouring. They often have a black band around the nape of their necks.

Please refer to images below for examples of patterns and colour variations.

This diurnal snake is fast, quick acting, and may be active during hot nights. Averaging around 1.5 meters in length, they have been recorded up to 2.4 meters

 

. When threatened or provoked, this snake will adopt the famous "S" pose, and will strike rapidly and repeatedly. They have a slender body, and are surprisingly fast.
Although the Eastern Brown snake is known as a temperamental and dangerous snake, they will almost always avoid contact with humans. There is no benefit for them to attack a large prey item as a human, and given the chance, they will flee a confrontation and only strike as a last resort.


Reproductive Cycle


In early spring, males can be seen in ritualised combat to prove supremacy. Once dominance is asserted, he will mate with any females within his range. In late spring to early summer, females produce a clutch of 10 - 35 eggs. Hatchlings are usually about 20cms in length, and posses the same toxicity on hatching as their parents. They are capable of inflicting a fatal bite from the moment they are free of their shell.


Diet and Habitat


The Eastern Brown is found along the entire length of the Eastern Sea Board, from Cape York to Melbourne, and across into South Australia. It enjoys a large range of habitats from open grasslands, to dense scrub, but is rarely found in rainforest areas. It is also able to adapt to suburbia remarkably well.
Eastern Browns feed on a large variety of prey, they will eat birds, lizards, frogs, and any small mammals. They have also been known to eat anything that might resemble food, and have been known to eat plastics that strike their fancy.

Image by Bryce Douglas
Image by Michael McGrath
Image by Michael McGrath
Image by Michael McGrath
Elk Anstey
Tony Kilmurray
Sue Ulyatt
Sue Ulyatt
Sue Ulyatt
Sue Ulyatt

 

 

Billy, a young girl from Goonellabah called WIRES "to come rescue these poor brown snakes that have got stuck while doing the bizness; everyone else wants me to kill them but I feel sorry for them"

 

WIRES snake handler Michael went to the rescue and snipped them free, cutting wide of the snakes as he was on his own, bagged them, then took them to another WIRES snake handler, and with his help the two snakes were safely cut free of the netting.

 

Spring is mating time for snakes, most unfortunate for these two that they came across discarded netting whilst mating, most fortunate that Billy reacted as fast as she did, neither snake sustained any injury and was released soon after being freed.

Please ensure netting and old wire is safely disposed of as it can be a deadly trap for many species of wildlife.

 

 

 

Do not assume snakes are sleeping during winter in the Northern Rivers area. A sunny day will bring them out as seen in these images.

This Eastern Brown snake was spotted enjoying the sun, recharging the batteries.

Best option is to leave the snake alone, it will move on, disturbing it may result in a defensive behavior which is no good for you or the snake.

 

Snakes are all around us at any given time, much better for a snake such as this having lived in the same area all of its life to be left alone, it knows where it is, it knows how to get away in a hurry to a spot where it feels safe.

 

If this snake was relocated another would soon move in to the open territory left, and the new comer is much more defensive as it is not familiar with movements of human neighbors or pets.

We can live in harmony, all it takes is understanding and respect of our native friends.

 

 

 

Updated July 8, 2015

 

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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