Online Projects Museum Victoria

Bioinformatics

Student Projects

Snakes of Victoria


Snakes of Victoria

    Common Copperhead

    Photo by Peter Robertson © Museum Victoria

  1. Snake Classification
  2. Related Species
  3. Is this Snake in your District?
  4. Snake Distribution
  5. Snake Seasonality
  6. Snake Toxicity
  7. Snake Images
  8. Your Report

There are 27 snake species known in Victoria. Some are quite localised in just a few districts, while others are much more widespread. This class project will introduce students to Bioinformatics while providing them with an understanding of the biodiversity and environmental requirements of a fascinating part of Australia's wildlife.

The project can be easily organised by allocating one species of snake to each student to research through the Bioinformatics database, and supplementing this with additional information from library resources. When the students have finished their research, the results could be presented as short individual reports on each snake species, and then summarised as a class poster or publication on the snakes of Victoria.

1. Snake Classification

Classification Search

Scroll down until you come to the Genus and Species names. This shows the scientific names of all 27 Victorian snakes on this database. Allocate one snake species to each member of the class.
Enter the name of the snake you have chosen and you will obtain a detailed account of its lineage (from kingdom, through phylum, class, order, family, genus, species, etc).

2. Related Species

Would you like to know what the close relatives of your snake are?

Nature's Family Trees or Hierarchical Searches

Enter the family name of the snake you have chosen and you will obtain a list of Victorian snakes which are close relatives of the one you have chosen.

3. Is this Snake in your District?

To find out whether your snake occurs in your district, carry out the following search:

User Defined Locality Search

Enter the name of your area and obtain a list of snake species. Is your snake present? If you want to know whether your snake has been found in a wider district around where you live, carry out one of the alternative searches listed below:

  • If you live in country Victoria, obtain a list of snakes for a block of land 30 minutes square (roughly 45 km x 55 km):

    Snake Checklist Map Search

    Click on the area in which your school or home is located to obtain your list. Is your snake present?
    If you want to search an even larger area, click and highlight a few adjoining areas.

    OR

  • If you live in the Greater Melbourne area, obtain a list of snakes for a block of land 10 minutes square (roughly 15 km x 18 km):

    Snake Cumulative Checklist Map for the Greater Melbourne Area

    Click on the area in which your school or home is located to obtain your list. Is your snake present?
    If you want to search an even larger area, click and highlight a few adjoining areas.

4. Snake Distribution

Where in Victoria has the museum recorded sightings of your chosen snake? Carry out the following search:

GIS Species Information Search

Enter the scientific name of your snake, and obtain a list of the latitude and longitude of all recorded sightings. Plot the most frequent sightings on a map of Victoria. Have there been any sightings near where you live?

'Click to Produce Distribution Map' at the top of the list of sightings to obtain access to six maps showing where in Victoria your snake has been recorded. The maps are:

  • Plain map
  • Altitude map
  • Rainfall map
  • Vegetation map
  • Zoogeographic map
  • Rivers map

Carefully examine each map and try to write statements about where your snake occurs in Victoria. The following questions may assist you to do this:

Plain Map
In which districts of Victoria does your snake occur? Use latitude and longitude and a good map of Victoria to answer this.
Does your snake occur near the coast, inland, near Melbourne, elsewhere in Victoria?

Altitude Map
Does your snake mainly live at low or high altitudes?
Is its favoured altitude the same on the coast as it is in inland areas?

Rainfall Map
Does your snake favour wet or dry areas of the state?
What is its preferred annual rainfall?
Is rainfall or altitude the best predictor of where your snake might be found?

Vegetation Map
What vegetation type is favoured by your snake?
Find out a little more about the sorts of trees and other plants found within this plant community.

Zoogeographical Map
In which type of animal community does your snake live?
Find out a little more about this zoogeographical region of Victoria.

Rivers Map
Is your snake found near main rivers?

5. Snake Seasonality

Find out the months in which your snake has been most frequently sighted.

Monthly Adult Snake Capture Frequencies Search

Enter the name of your snake and obtain a table and graph showing the months in which the museum has recorded your snake. Try to explain the pattern of sightings.

6. Snake Toxicity

Find out how dangerous your snake is.

Snake Venom Potential Search

Enter the name of the snake you have chosen and obtain an indication of the toxicity of its venom.

7. Snake Images

To obtain one or several images of your chosen snake, carry out the following search:

Image Search

Enter the name of your chosen snake, and gain access to the images that are on the data base. Click on thumbnails to access and enlarge images.

8. Your Report

Once you have finished the searches outlined above, you are ready to write your report. You may decide to supplement the data you have obtained with information from reference books in your library. This may provide you with additional information on snakes in general, or on the snake you have chosen.

If the snake you have chosen is found in your district, you may be able to obtain information on snake sightings from your parents, neighbours or local naturalists. This will provide you with some indication of whether the number of snakes in your district has changed over the years.

When you feel you have enough material, you should write a report on your chosen snake. The reports on each snake can then be combined into a report on the Snakes of Victoria, and presented as:

  • a school project
  • a talk to your class or to a parents meeting
  • a talk on the local radio station
  • an article for the school magazine or the local paper
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