sunny day in the middle of Winter in the Northern Rivers of
NSW, my husband and I stumbled upon a small snake, basking in
the sun on a rather chilly day.
was beautiful! Quite small, and brownish in colour, with large
eyes - all the better to see us with! We knew he was a bad bitey
snake (ie: toxic) but he was little and apparently cold, so
we decided to grab the camera and get some good shots of him.
didn't much like us being there, disturbing his sunbaking. He
raised his body off the ground and flattened his head, a sure
sign of a cranky snake. But I wanted photos for Fourth Crossing
Wildlife, so happily we snapped away. Zooming in quiet close
for detailed shots.
that afternoon I fetched my reptile book, The Complete Guide
to Australian Reptiles, and we flipped through the pages to
identify our little snake friend. We found him! Then we looked
at the text - oh shit! Big bold, capital letters greeted us
- DANGEROUSLY VENOMOUS!!!!
snake we had been up close and personal with and photographing
at close range was indeed a bad bitey snake, actually one of
Australia's most venomous snakes - the Rough-Scaled Snake. Aren't
we lucky he was cold and not anxious!
reason we were fooled (apart from never seeing one before) is
because the Rough-Scaled Snake is mainly crepuscular or nocturnal,
although it can come out in the day at times.
Rough-Scaled Snake - an Australian elapid - is also known as
the Clarence River Snake, its scientific name is Tropidechis
carinatus and it is the sole member of its genus.
is a slender snake and grows up to 900mm's in length. Its eye
is moderately large with a pale iris and round pupil. The scales
are matt-textured and strongly keeled in 23 midbody rows. Its
colour varies from yellowish brown, olive and dark brown with
irregular darker bands or blotches along the body. The belly
is paler in colour, normally grey or cream.
The subtropical population of Rough-Scaled Snake can be found
in the north east of New South Wales and the south east of Queensland.
There is also a tropical population in north-east Queensland.
It prefers areas of wet schlerophyl forest, rainforests and
creek margins. The Rough-Scaled Snake feed mostly on frogs,
lizards, small mammals and birds. It generally feeds on the
ground, but it can climb shrubs to hunt for food as well. It
is thought that the snake breeds from mid Spring to late Summer
and it produces live young and one litter can have up to 18
individuals, in late Summer.
are often persecuted and this is mainly due to fear. Snake bites
are often received while attempting to kills snakes.
humans can live with snakes! Check out Simon Watharow's book
"Living with Snakes and other Reptiles".