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Welcome to the Snakes of Townsville page.This page provides basic introduction to snakes of the Townsville region and gives insights into their role in our environment. Before scrolling down please read the disclaimer above and information below.
This page is not designed to be used as an identification guide or to train people in the identification of snakes. Snakes can be highly variable within their species. Proper identification takes practice and knowledge of the local snakes (there are over 30 species found in Townsville alone).
For a confirmed ID or to find a local snake cather to remove a snake from your property please visit Townsville Snake Catchers on Facebook. Click here
Never attempt to catch a snake yourself. Permits and training are required to legally and safely relocate snakes.
Treat all snake bites as potentially venomous and contact emergency services immediately. For information on the correct first aid for Australian snake bite please refer to stjohn.org.au/assets/uploads/fact%20sheets/english/FS_snakebite.pdf
Snakes are a natural part of living in the tropics and it's not uncommon to see them in our urban environments. Not all snakes are dangerous and they perform a vital role in our ecosystem helping to control pest populations and also providing food for other predatory species.
When you see a snake, don't panic. Stop. Snakes react to movement. Assess which way the snake is heading. Move yourself, your family and pets away when safe to do so. Keep an eye on the snakes location and call a Snake Catcher to have it removed if necessary.
Not all species which may be encountered are represented on this page. Other translocated (non native to the region) species have previously been found in Townsville as either lost pets or accidental transports.
Commonly encountered species
Common Tree Snake
(Dendrelaphis punctulata) Non venomous. Size: 1.2m One of the most commonly seen snakes in Townsville this species can be highly variable in colour. Also known locally as the Green Tree Snake or one of the species refered to as the Yellow-bellied Black Snake. When disturbed may puff up to intimidate predators, this can reveal blue skin between the scales. Commonly in the diet of this snake are frogs, which may pass on tapeworms resulting in benign lumps beneath the skin.
Brown Tree Snake
(Boiga irregularis) Mildly venomous but not generally considered dangerous. Size: 2m This species is also known locally as the "Dolls-eye snake" or "Night Tiger". Generally nocturnal it is regularly associated with aviaries as it can slip through mesh that is not "Snake and Mouse proof" grade. The body colour varies from light cream to dark brown with differing levels of striping. Will curl into an "S" bend readily when disturbed to try and intimidate potential predators.
(Morelia spilota mcdowelli) Non venomous. Size: 2m+ Highly variable in colour and pattern. Largely nocturnal its diet consists mainly of birds and small to medium mammals. The presence of heat pits on the lower jaw can sometimes be mistaken for teeth. Although not venomous it can inflict a painful bite if threatened.
(Tropidonophis mairii) Non venomous. Size: Under 1m. Also known as the Freshwater Snake. This species is primarily a frog eater and is able to kill and eat Cane Toads without ill effect. It receieves its name from the raised ridges on each scale giving it a keeled or rough looking appearance. This snake is commonly misidentified and persecuted because of its brown colouration. Can be variable in colouration in Townsville may be red, silver, yellow, grey, brown or other.
Eastern Brown Snake
(Pseudonaja textilis) Dangerously venomous. Size 2.2m This snake is highly variable in colour. It can range from pale cream to black and have variations have striped or flecked patterning. Juveniles generally have a black mark on the top of the head and a red and black band on the neck however some can be fully banded or striped. Generally has bright orange to red markings on the belly though some specimens do not. Diet mainly consists of rodents and other reptiles, including other snakes.
Lesser Black Whipsnake
(Demansia vestigiata) Venomous. Size: 1.2m. Potentially dangerous. It is characteristically fast and agile. It often is grey fading to a coppery coloured tail and red flecking to the edge of each scale. Commonly confused for an Eastern Brown Snake.
(Antaresia maculosa) Non venomous. Size: 1m. This small sized python is characterised by a pattern of rough edged spots, splodges and sometimes lines on a paler brown or creamish background. Its diet mainly consists of small birds, reptiles and mammals.
(Liasis mackloti) Non venomous. Size: 2.5m This species is characteristically brown on top with a bright yellow to orange belly. Sometimes called the "Rainbow serpent" as its highly glossy scales can shine rainbow colours in the sun. Commonly preys on birds, including domestic chickens that aren't secured in snake proof aviaries. Generally nocturnal. Can deliver a painful bite if threatened.
Less commonly encountered species
(Oxyuranus scutellatus) Dangerously venomous. Size: 2-3m. Its diet consists of rodents and small ground dwelling mammals. It prefers habitats with long grass though may be seen elsewhere. Its colour is variable from black to straw yellow but typically has a pale face. It is a swift, active and alert species. Image supplied by: Greg Calvert
(Acanthophis antarcticus) Dangerously venomous. Size: Less than 1m. More common on Magnetic Island particularly in areas of heavy leaf litter and creek beds but possible in other suburbs. This species in an ambush predator. Its tail tip is modified and it wriggles it to attract its prey of small reptiles, mammals or birds. The snake then strikes (fastest strike in Australia) to grab its prey. This snake can lie camouflaged in wait for many days in the same area.
(Morelia kinghorni) Non venomous. The longest species of snake in Australia it can grow over 5m commonly with reports up to 8m in length. This python is capable of eating large prey including wallabies. It can be distinguished from Carpet Pythons by the large scale pattern of its head (Carpet Pythons have many small scales). It is generally more heavily patterened on the body and tail with zig zags and stripes. Powerful constrictors.
(Vermicella annulata) Mildly venomous but generally not considered dangerous. Size: Less than 80cm.This snake is identifiable by its heavily contrasting banded colour of black/brown and white/cream. The bands travel the whole way around the body. It is believed to be a highly specialised feeder on Blind Snakes. More commonly seen after rain which may flush them from their burrows. When disturbed may make "hoop" shapes with its body which it raises and lowers.
Orange Naped Snake
(Furina ornata) Venomous. Size: 65cm ( more commonly seen at approx 30cm). Also known as the "Moon Snake" they can be confused for Red-Naped Snakes or juvenile Eastern Brown Snakes which it is thought to mimic for protection. The orange band behind the neck may be absent or faded in larger or regional specimens. See also: Red Naped Snake and Eastern Brown Snake
(Ramphotyphlops braminus) Non venomous. Size: Less than 20cm. This is an introduced species which is now regularly seen in gardens in Townsville. It resembles an earthworm in appearance but with shining scales instead of skin. These small snakes live largely underground and feed on the eggs of termites and ants. Have poor vision but are sensetive to light.
Other encountered species
Black Headed Python
(Aspidites melanocephalus) Non venomous. Size: 2.6m. Also occasionally refered to as the "Tar-dipped Python". It has a glossy black head which it uses for thermoregulation. The body is generally black or red striped on a cream, fawn or brown background. This snake predates readily on other reptiles including venomous snakes. Due to its lack of visible external heat pits and slender head merging without distinction to its neck it is commonly misidentified as a venomous species.
Slaty Grey Snake
(Stegonotus cucullatus) Non venomous. Size: 1.3m. This species is generally nocturnal and predates mostly on frogs. It is known for its pugnacious attitude and bites readily. Grey to Black on top generally with a pale white belly.
Red Bellied Black Snake
(Pseudechis porphyriacus) Dangerously venomous. Size: Less than 2m. Despite its name northern specimens may lack the characteristic red flecked scales along its sides. This species is often but not always asscoiated with bodies of water as it preys largely on other reptiles and frogs. Cane Toads have been implicated in decline in sightings of this species. Bites can among other symptoms cause very painful die back of the tissue around the bite site even after treatment.
(Pseudechis australis) Dangerously venomous. Size: 2.5mThis heavy bodied venomous snake was previously known as the King Brown Snake. The Mulga Snake is actually a member of the Black Snake family (which includes Red Bellied Black Snakes) not the Brown Snake family. Colour is extremely variable in this species. It is a widespread snake and a highly cannibalistic species commonly predating on other snakes. Cane Toads have been implicated in a sharp populatin decline. Image by: Anders Zimny
(Demansia torquata) Venomous. Size: Less than 1m. Juveniles of this species are usually strongly coloured with a black cap and a pale edged dark bar across the neck. Seen semi-regularly on Castle Hill walking tracks but can be seen in other suburbs. A day active and alert snake. Like other Whipsnakes it feeds primarily on lizards. Image supplied by: Greg Calvert
Red Naped Snake
(Furina diadema) Venomous. Size: 40cm. Similar to the Orange Naped Snake and often confused. Has a glossy black head and neck with an enclosed red/orange spot on the nape. Generally active nocturnally. Resembles a juvenile Eastern Brown Snake for protection. See also: Orange Naped Snake and Eastern Brown Snake Image supplied by: Greg Calvert
Yellow Naped Snake
(Furina barnardi) Venomous. Size: 50cm. This is an uncommon species. Dark brown to black it may have a pale yellow band across the nape. The band fades with size and age of the animal. Image by: Anders Zimny
(Cryptophis boschmai) Venomous. Potentially Dangerous. Size: 56cm. Its colour varies from brown, pinky brown to orange brown on the top and sides. Image supplied by: Greg Calvert
Eastern Small Eyed Snake
(Cryptophis nigrescens) Dangerously venomous. Size: Less than 1m. It is characteristically glossy black on top and may be pink or cream underneath. The bright pink colouration of some individuals leads them to being mistaken for Red Bellied Black Snakes.
(Suta suta) Dangerously venomous. Size: 60cm. Also called the Myall Snake. Body varying shades of brown while the top of the head is a darker brown to black. A pale stripe runs through the eye and it has a pale belly. Generally active nocturnally its diet consists of lizards, frogs and small mammals. Seen regularly between Charters Towers and Townsville but may be seen in other suburbs.
Black Striped Snake
(Cryptophis nigrostiatus) Venomous. Size: 50cm. This snake gets its name from the dark stripe running down its back which contrasts with the red to dull reddish brown of its sides. Generally active at night it can be encountered when sheltering under logs or fallen bark.
Australian Coral Snake
(Brachyurophis australis) Currently considered virtually harmless to humans. Size: 35cm. This snake lives in burrows and has a highly specialised diet of small reptile eggs such as skinks. Pink or reddish bands across body with darker bands on the head and neck.
Northern Dwarf Crowned Snake
(Cacohpis churchilli) Weakly venomous. Size: Less than 45cm This secretive snake is generally nocturnal and not seen because of its small size. It has a small light yellow band behind its head contrasting with its dark grey body scales. Image supplied by: Greg Calvert
Snake look alikes
Burton's Legless Lizard
(Lialis burtonis) The Burton's Legless Lizard is the most widely distributed reptile in Australia. It is highly variable both locally and across its range. Its diet mainly consists of other small reptiles, particularly dragons, skinks and geckos. It may be laterally striped or not. If its tail is lost to a predator it may regrow another one which will is a different colour or pattern to its original tail.
(Delma tincta) The Excitable Delma Legless Lizard is thought to mimic a venomous snake for protection. If looking closely you can see it has ear holes and a flat tongue. Like other Legless Lizards the Delma has a short body and relatively long tail which can regrow if broken off by a predator.
Eastern Hooded Scaleyfoot
(Pygopus schraderi) The Eastern Hooded Scaleyfoot is more closely related to geckos than skinks. It eats insects including spiders and is largely nocturnal. It can vary in pattern but like the other legless lizards has ear holes and a wide flat tongue. Can put on an impressive defensive display to ward off potential predators.
Sea Snake species
Spine-bellied Sea Snake
(Lapemis curtus) Dangerously Venomous. Size: 1.2m. Juveniles have black saddles on a cream background which fades to brown/olive saddles on a cream background with age. Males have longer spines on the underside than females. Image by: Anders Zimny
Elegant Sea Snake
(Hydrophis elegans) Dangerously venomous. Size: 2m This species have a long body with a head that looks small compared to their body size. They are strongly marked from birth with black/brown saddles and bands. Image by: Greg Calvert
Olive Sea Snake
(Aipysurus laevis) Dangerously venomous. Size: 1.7m This large species is highly variable in colour and widespread. It is a robust animal and often associated with reef areas where it eats a wide variety of foods. Image by: Greg Calvert
Other reference sites:
Department of Environment and Heritage Protection Snakes of the Townsville region
The Australian Reptile Online Database