What is a Red Bellied Black Snake?Sometimes called a Red Belly Black Snake
Scientific Name: Dacelo novaeguineae
The Red Bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) gets its name from the fact that it has a black upper body with the sides and the lower part of its body (belly) being bright red or crimson fading into a dull dark pink colour under its body. Its snout is usually a paler brown colour. The body scales are smooth and glossy.
The Red Bellied Black Snake's head is barely distinguishable from its body. That is to say, there isn't a clearly visible constricted neck area. Its eyes are medium size and sit below an obvious brow-ridge. It has very dark eyes with round pupils.
The average adult is about 1.5 - 2m long, with males growing slightly larger than females. Some have been known to grow up to 2.5 metres in length, making it one of the largest venomous snakes in Australia.
The Red Bellied Black Snake belongs to the Elapid family of snakes which means it is front fanged.
Like most snakes it is deaf, has a forked tongue, and no eyelids.
They are very shy creatures, who prefer to avoid humans.
Where does the Red Bellied Black Snake Live?
Geographic Distribution of the Red Bellied Black Snake
Red Bellied Black Snakes can be found in small areas of north-eastern
Queensland and then from south-eastern Queensland through eastern New South
Wales and Victoria. They can also be found in in parts of the Mount Lofty
Ranges of South Australia. (See map).
Red Bellied Back Snake Habitat
The Red Bellied Black Snakes live in moist habitats within forests, woodlands and grasslands close to bodies of water such as rivers, streams, swamps and wetlands. They have also adapted to the modern rural environments and can be found close to irrigation canals and dams. The snakes shelter under large rocks, in logs, in animal burrows and in clumps of grass. They seem to be territorial and have a number of preferred shelters within their domain.
What Does a Red Bellied Black Snake Eat?
Red Bellied Black Snakes primarily eat of frogs, they also eat lizards, fish, eggs, small mammals and other snakes, including member of their own species. The snake is known to forage in water where it may completely submerge itself in search of prey. Captured prey may be brought to the surface or swallowed while still under water. These snakes have been observed intentionally stirring up underwater sediment to flush out hidden prey.
There was some concern about the rapid decline in population of these snakes after the introduction of the Cane Toad in the 1920s. It appears, however, that the snake has learned to identify these poisonous frogs and avoid eating them.
Do Red Bellied Black Snakes Attack Humans?
The Red Bellied Black Snake is a very shy creature. It will evade humans
rather than attack. When threatened it will try to bluff its way out of the
situation by flattening its bodies, lift its body up in a striking stance and
hiss loudly rather than attack. If provoked further it will attack in
The snake's venom is classified as dangerously venomous, but its toxicity is not considered fatal. Their venom is Hemotoxic (destroys red blood cells) and Cytotoxic (damages tissue). There is no record of any human dying from the bite of a Red Bellied Black Snake.
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Red Bellied Black Snakes Fighting
Red Bellied Black Snakes reach sexual maturity in 2-3 years. During the spring breeding season (October to November) males travel widely in search of females. They will fight other males they may encounter to gain access to a female. Jousting involves the two rivals spreading their necks and rearing up their fore-bodies and twisting their necks around each other and getting entwined during the struggle. The snakes may also hiss loudly and bite each other (they are immune to their own species' toxin). This jostling usually lasts for less than half an hour with one of the contenders conceding defeat by leaving the area.
Red Bellied Black Snake Reproduction Red Bellied Black Snakes are Born Alive
The female gives birth about four to five months after mating. Red Bellied black snakes are ovoviviparous. They do not lay eggs like most other snakes. Instead they give birth to between 8 to 40 live young each in their own individual membranous sac. The young break through this membranous sac soon after birth. They are about 122mm at birth. The babies are born with well-developed venom glands. Their bite is just as toxic as that of their parents. Most young do not survive to adulthood. They fall prey to birds such has the kookaburra, other snakes and frogs, etc.
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