Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake Rhinoplocephalus nigriceps

Snakes of Victoria series


Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake, Rhinoplocephalus nigriceps is a brown snake with an undivided dark head patch joining a dark vertebral stripe, a white belly and white lips. It has 15 rows of mid-body scales, a single anal scale and 15-40 single subcaudal scales. It can grow to a total length of up to 60 cm.

This snake may be confused with a juvenile Brown Snake, however a juvenile Brown Snake has a dark collar.

Photo of Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake

Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake occurs in the north-western and north-central areas of Victoria, in mallee and saltbush environments.

Biology and bite

Active at night, its diet consists of small lizards. Females give birth to as many as 7 live young.

The Mitchell’s Short-tailed Snake is not considered dangerous to adults. If bitten on a limb, apply a pressure bandage, immobilise the limb and seek medical advice immediately. If bitten elsewhere, apply continual direct pressure to the bite site. Do not wash the wound as the venom can confirm the identification of the snake.

Further Reading

Coventry, A. J. and Robertson, P. 1991. The Snakes of Victoria – A Guide to their Identification. Department of Conservation & Environmen. /Museum of Victoria.

Cogger, H. 2000. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. 2003. Reptiles of Australia. Princeton University Press.

Comments (6)

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micah bonnici 29 May, 2011 15:38
hi, do these snakes occur within Mt Korong Nature Conservation Reserve. They occur down to Dunolly and up to the mallee.-PPS Mount Korong is near Wedderburn. Considering that they can occur in mallee shrublands and granitic shrublands they are possibly in the area. Anyway do u no of any records in the area. cheers, Micah
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tyson 9 November, 2012 14:42
thier tails dont look small
Alex 16 March, 2013 15:39
we caught a similar snake in the car when we returned from a camping trip 130km north of Balranald in Western N.S.W, my brother will return there in april and will be released back to where it belongs!!!! would i be able to send some photo's for id purposes?
Discovery Centre 16 March, 2013 16:34
Hi Alex, of course!  You are welcome to send your image to us via the Ask the Experts page.
Mary Hender 8 October, 2015 16:54
Hi,I heard my Jack Russel dog barking, I knew immediate that this bark is due to a danger and not a human approaching with a car. Exactly the description of the picture was a snake a meter or over long. It was on my back door under my car. I week my self from panic and called 000 and they told me to contact a snake catcher. I am limited financially and have no money to pay for a snake catcher. A mean while I am so afraid to go out and leave my home. Can you please give me a practical advice. Thank you
Discovery Centre 9 October, 2015 11:46
Hello Mary - we're not sure the Museum is the right place to give you the advice you need given your immediate situation. Many local councils can advise on snake catching services, and may even operate one themself, you can perhaps call them. Otherwise, a broader longer-term  approach to reducing snake risks at your area is to reduce the suitability of your property to snakes by removing hiding places (sheets of tin or other refuse around the yard), reducing access to water sources, keeping grass cut low, and removing food sources such as rodents.