The Australian Brown Snake facts and Guide
There is no disputing the fact that the brown snake is responsible for more snake bite deaths in Australia than any other reptile. Afforded the dubious position of 2nd in the venom stakes in the world, it’s out done, only by the Fierce Snake, also found in Australia. The brown snake is found all over Australia except in Tasmania. It’s equally at home in the deserts, mountains, coastal areas and inland areas. It does tend to shun the rainforest areas. It prefers grassland and bush areas, but is fond of mice and rats for it’s food source, which puts it on a collision course with humans, because it inhabits farms with their outlying buildings and grains. The places that mice and rats prefer to reside.
Snakes go to extrordinary lengths to avoid confrontation with man, are very sensitive to vibrations in the ground, and are normally long gone by the time anyone gets to the spot where the snake may have been. However occasionally a sleepy snake will be surprised, and there lies the danger. Or if someone is foolish enough to attempt to kill the snake, forseeing it as a threat, they risk being bitten because of lack of knowledge of reactions of reptiles and grossly understimate their speed. When aroused to anger, the brown snake is extremely aggressive, and coils the bottom half of it’s body into an S shape, to give it more speed when striking.
There are several types of brown snakes in Australia, the Eastern Brown, (Pseudonaja textilis) the Western Brown (Gwardir) and also the Dugite, which mainly inhabits the western states.
The average length of a brown snake is 1.5 metres (4.9 ft) but some have been recorded as reaching 2.4 metres (7.8 ft).
Eastern Brown Snake
Western Brown Snake
Dugite – Often mistaken for a Western Brown Snake.
The venom of the brown snake is very toxic. Although only a minute amount of venom is injected in a bite, in fact only 4 milligrams (less than one thousandth of a fluid ounce) it is more than enough to cause death in an adult. Their fangs however are extremely small in size.
All Australian hospitals, clinics and Drs surgeries have a supply of antivennene available. It is imperitive that the antivennene is provided quickly however, any delay has proven fatal to many. Most Australians believe in prevention rather than cure, and leave any snake they
encounter alone. Snakes are timid by nature and will flee, given the opporunity. When walking in long grasses and forest areas, long heavy pants, and good sound boots are also a prerequisite for safety first.
Male brown snakes have a peculiar ritual they perform whilst competing for a receptive female. They intertwine the top half of their bodies, much like a rope and sway back and forth, until one snakes head touches the ground. This ritual has been observed to take several hours at times, when the males are of similar size. Thus the successful male, copulates with the female by intertwining, this can also be for several hours.
The female lays up to 15 eggs in one clutch. During spring to summer, September to January, she can have two clutches per breeding season. The females do not care for the nest, they simply lay the eggs, and leave them. The nest can be under a fallen tree log, stump or under a low overhanging rock formation. Several other females can also lay their eggs in the same nest. This nest is used from season to season. Incubation is 10 to 11 weeks in duration, the hatchlings are born independent and are as highly venomous as their parents, even though they only measure 250 – 270 mm (11.5 inches) long.