Snake Species Found Throughout The South Coast of New South Wales
This page offers a brief guide to the snakes found throughout the south coast. However correct snake identification should be left to a professional as it can be very difficult due to the varying colours, patterns and sizes of snakes within a species.
Green Tree Snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) – Harmless:
The South Coast represents one of the southern most points for this species. It is a thin arboreal species which cruises through the understory and canopies of trees with ease. Found throughout the east coast and northern shores of Australia a variety of colour forms exist, however down south the green dorsal surface with yellow under belly prevail as dominant. If disturbed it will inflated its neck region to expose the blue tinged skin between the scales. Adults are approximately 1.2 metres in length but can reach 2 metres.
Diamond Python (Morelia spilota spilota) – Harmless:
The only python species found on the south coast of New South Wales. The Diamond python is a large robust snake which can grow to nearly 4 metres in length. It is semi arboreal meaning it is just at home on the ground as it is in the trees. Identified by its black colouration mottled with yellow/cream markings in the form of spots or ‘diamonds’, this species is commonly encountered but poses no threat when left alone.
Blackish Blind Snake (Ramphotyphlops nigrescens) – Harmless:
Often mistaken for earth worms these burrowing snakes are usually up turned in the garden or under rotting logs. They have a polish like appearance to their scales and are either a purplish brown or pinkish brown in colour with a lighter belly. Their diet consists entirely of ant and termite eggs, larvae and pupae. Can reach 75 cm in length and are unable to bite humans.
Golden Crowned Snake (Cacophis squamulosus) Venomous:
This nocturnal species reaches a maximum length of 80 cm. It is often encountered in gardens hidden beneath leaf litter and under logs. It has an incomplete yellow-light brown band surrounding the head, the underside of the snake is orange-pink with black mottling. The golden crown snake will raise its fore body in an ‘s’ shape off the ground and flatten its head when disturbed. Due to this defence display and colour it can easily be mistaken for an Eastern Brown Snake.
Eastern small eyed snake (Cryptophis nigrescens) Venomous:
A small to medium size nocturnal species, this snake is most often encountered when up turned in the garden under logs and rocks. It is not uncommon to find several residing together. They are glossy black to greyish in colour with an underbelly that can be red, pink, orange to white. For this reason and their small size of 40 cm -1 metre, they are often misidentified as juvenile red bellied black snakes.
Yellow faced Whip Snake (Demansia psammophis) Venomous:
A slender, fast moving diurnal snake, this species is another often mistaken for the Eastern Brown Snake. It prefers the drier habitats in which it hunts lizards and shelters beneath sandstone rocks. Colouration can range from grey to olive green often with a copper colour tinge. A distinguishable feature of this species is the dark comma like markings under the eyes. Can grow to 1 metre in length.
White Lipped Snake (Drysdalia Coronoides) Venomous:
A small species attaining a length of 50 cm, the white lip snake favours damper areas with abundant grass tussocks. It is usually a grey to olive green colour with a white stripe running along its top lip. Its ventral surface can be yellowish, cream to even pink. Distinguished from the similar marsh snake by not having a black belly and only one white stripe on the head.
Mustard Bellied Snake (Drysdalia rhodogaster) Venomous:
A brown to olive coloured snake with a yellowish band on the neck and some mottled colouration on the nasal region. Its ventral surface can be either grey or orange. This species is one of the smallest found on the South Coast reaching only 40 cm as an adult.
Red Naped Snake (Furina diadema) Venomous:
A small nocturnal species commonly mistaken for juvenile Eastern Brown Snakes. This snake reaches a total length of 40 cm and is brown to reddish brown above with a glossy black head and neck region broken by an orange to red blotch on the nape which its name is derived.
Marsh Snake (Hemiaspis signata) Venomous:
The Marsh snake is a small to medium sized snake reaching 80 cm in length. It is often associated with water and damp pockets within its range where its olive green to grey colour help conceal it amongst grass and debris. It has two white stripes on its head, one along the lip and the other from the eye to the neck. Its underside is black, which explains its other name of black bellied swamp snake. The two stripes and black belly distinguish this from the similar White lipped Snake.
Little Whip Snake (Parasuta flagellum) Venomous:
A small nocturnal species attaining a length of 50 cm. This species has been recorded from the Braidwood region. It is brown in colour and can have a reddish or greyish tinge to it, each scale has a dark edge. Its head and neck are black in colour with a small brown band over the nasal area. Very often confused for the more toxic Eastern Brown Snake.
Bandy Bandy (Vermicella annulata) Venomous:
Distinct broad black and white bands circle the entire body of the Bandy Bandy making it difficult to mistake it for any other species of snake. It is a nocturnal species not often encountered as it lives underground only surfacing in heavy rains or when looking for a potential mate. This species exclusively eats Blind Snakes it finds in underground tunnels. When disturbed the Bandy Bandy will arch its body into one or two loops and raise them off the ground in an attempt to warn off a predator.
Common Death Adder (Acanthophis antarticus) Highly Venomous:
Unlike most other Australian venomous snakes that actively forage for prey the death adder is an ambush predator that will lay hidden in debris for days using its tail as lure to attract an unsuspecting rodent or lizard. Also unlike its Australian counterparts this species will not move if approach instead relying on its camouflage to avoid detection, for this reason it was often referred to as ‘deaf adder’. It is primarily nocturnal and can be seen crossing roads on warm nights. It is a stocky medium sized snake reaching lengths of 90 cm but most often encountered between the 30-45 cm size range.
Broad Headed Snake (Hoplocephalus bungaroides) Highly Venomous:
A medium size snake that inhabits sandstone outcrops. This species is under increased threat from sandstone harvesting for landscaped gardens. It can attain a length of 1 m but most often seen at a size of 60cm. The Broad Head is a nocturnal species which is black in colour with yellow markings making it easy to mistake for a juvenile Diamond python. When threatened it will raise its body off the ground with the fore body configured in a ‘s’ shape and flatten its head to appear larger than it is.
Tiger Snake (Notechis scutatus) Highly Venomous:
Another species frequently encountered but not restricted to waterways. The tiger snake is a large snake that can grow to 1.8 metres but most often seen around 1 metre in length. It is primarily a frog eating species but will not hesitate to take rodents or lizards if given the opportunity. The tiger snake gets its common name from the yellow/cream and olive stripes down its back, however unbanded specimens are just as common. If threatened the tiger snake will flatten its head and neck to a considerable degree and hiss loudly.
Red Bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) Highly Venomous:
One of the most commonly encountered and well known snake species on the east coast of Australia. This large elapid can attain a length of 2 metres and is distinguishable by its glossy black colouration and its crimson red sides. Its fondness of water means creeks, dams and rivers are areas that are frequented by this snake.
Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) Highly Venomous:
A large, flighty and nervous species, the eastern brown is a misunderstood snake that is surrounded by myths and folklore that are truly underserved. When threatened or cornered this snake will raise its fore body off the ground in a characteristic ‘s’ shape and will not hesitate to defend itself if molested. This is a species that has thrived due to urbanisation and the introduction of the European house mouse. It can grow to 2.2 metres in length and can come in an array of colour forms from tan, caramel, brown, to grey and black. Juveniles are often barred with black and may be misidentified as tiger snakes.