Red-bellied Black Snake

Pseudechis porphyriacus

Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus Pseudechis porphyriacus distribution Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) eating an Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus eating an Eastern Brown Snake, Pseudonaja textilis.
Photograph by Joe Sambono.

Identification:

The Red-bellied Black Snake has a shiny, immaculate black back and the tip of the snout is brown.  The belly is cream, but each scale has a dark hind edge.  There is red on the lower flanks.  This species grows to 2 metres.  Midbody scale rows 17; ventrals 170–215; anal paired; subcaudals single at front, remainder divided 40–65.

Distribution:

Found in north-eastern Queensland from Big Tableland to Mt Elliot. It is present in mid-eastern Queensland in the Proserpine and Eungella regions.  The southern part of its range extends from Gladstone (south-eastern Queensland) through New South Wales and Victoria to south-eastern South Australia.

Habitat:

Usually found in well watered areas such as river and creek banks and swamps.  Also known from rainforests, wet eucalypt forests and heaths.

Habits:

This species is active by day.

Danger:

A dangerously venomous species with strongly haemotoxic and cytotoxic venom.  If bitten, apply first aid and seek urgent medical attention.  First aid procedure for any snakebite from the Australian Venom Research Unit.

Food:

Feeds on fish, frogs, reptiles (including other snakes) and small mammals.  Cane Toads are sometimes taken (with fatal results for the snake).

Breeding:

Mating activity occurs during spring and mid-summer.  Five to nineteen live young are born between October and March. The newborn snakes are around 22 cm from the tip of the snout to the base of the tail (snout-vent length).

Similar species:

Most similar to the Small-eyed snake (Cryptophis nigrescens), which is smaller and has different scalation, a small flat head with tiny eyes and a slim build. Cryptophis nigrescens has a coral pink or cream belly, sometimes blotched, and lacks red on its lower flanks.

Additional Information:

This species has declined in many areas where Cane Toads occur.

The Red-bellied Black Snake is an inhabitant of coastal swamps and waterways. The Red-bellied Black Snake is an inhabitant of coastal swamps and waterways.

 

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