Red-naped Snake Furina diadema

Snakes of Victoria series


The Red-naped Snake, Furina diadema, is reddish brown, often with a reticulated pattern on the back. The head and nape are black with a conspicuous red or orange coloured patch on the back of the head. It has 15 rows of mid-body scales, a divided anal scale and 35-70 divided subcaudal scales. It is a small snake with a maximum length of 40 cm.

Photo of Red-naped Snake, Furina diadema

Red-naped Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The Red-naped Snake is a secretive species and is rare within Victoria. It is known only from the riverine areas in the far north-west and is often found in association with ant or termite nests.

Biology and bite

Active at night, it preys on small scincid lizards. Females lay 2-5 eggs in late spring or summer.

The Red-naped Snake is venomous, but 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 & Environment/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 (29)

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Jennifer 16 November, 2010 16:29
We have just captured a rednaped snake would you like it or should we let it go? We are located at Pooncarie NSW just above Mildura Victoria
Discovery Centre 18 November, 2010 10:37
Hi Jennifer, thank you for your kind donation offer but we could only accept the snake if it was collected under a valid permit. So the best thing would be to release it. 
jess 3 December, 2012 11:24
We had a snake like that but with a yellow band across back of head , grey and black in colour and a cream belly about the same size as a pencil at Fowlers Bay SA,
Mark thompson 7 February, 2013 13:26
Just caught & released (away from my workshop) a small approx 350mm very aggressive snake with a black head(could not see any red on its head) I assumed it was a baby brown snake,was however told it was a nape snake,ar they common here at cadia mine outside orange nsw?
Riordan's 17 February, 2013 22:45
Just captured and released a red nape in the kitchen at Nichols Point near Mildura.
Chris 24 February, 2013 21:59
Nearly stood on an excellent specimen over the river in Gol Gol this morning (around 300mm). Initial thoughts was that it was a juvenile brown snake but with a distinctive orange and black head a quick search on the internet confirmed it was a Red Naped Snake.
Daryl Faithfull 18 February, 2013 08:59
Found what I believe to be a Red Naped Snake on the edge of Lake Hume on the Victorian arm, it was dead but fresh, I assume drowned, It was at the Huon Victoria boat ramp, It was about 300mm long, I though it was a baby brown snake untill I saw the red & orange band on the black head, lived in this area all my life, 60+ years, & never seen one here before.
Elise 12 March, 2013 16:14
I was walking home one day and found a dead snake it fit the description you gave but I wasn't sure I seen any red on it. Is the red very visible/ bright or would it need a closer look to confirm???
Elizabeth Johnson 17 March, 2013 16:00
Just killed a red nape snake on my back veranda. I was worried about it biting my little dog. Have they been found in or around Castlemaine Vic before?
Discovery Centre 5 April, 2013 15:09
Hello! You might be interested in the Bioinformatics Snake Checklist resource, to see what snakes have been recorded in your area.
Anonymous 4 April, 2013 17:51
Just found one of these in our front yard. Its about 15cm long. We live in Red Cliffs township near Mildura.
Jack 24 December, 2013 13:54
Just found a snake in our skimmer box of our pool. At first we thought it was a baby brown snake. Off course being in the pool the chemicals killed the snake. With no ideas of what this snake was I searched it up on the Internet revealing it was a red naped snake. We live miles away from Victoria, just wondering why it would be in this area. We live in warren nsw Australia
Discovery Centre 24 December, 2013 14:25
Hi Jack, in terms of distribution in Victoria, this species occurs just in the north-western corner of the state. However according to 'Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia' by Harold Cogger, the species also occurs over much of New South Wales, south-eastern Queensland and into parts of South Australia. 
Peter de Marco 31 December, 2013 00:43
I caught and relocated what looked like a red naped snake today. Is it possible that these snakes are found in the Pilbara also ???
Discovery Centre 31 December, 2013 09:50
Hi Peter - A distribution map for the Red-Naped Snake shows that it's very unlikely for one to be in the Pilbara. An image search for juvenile brown snakes, however, gives several examples that could easily be mistaken for the Red-Naped, so I would definitely advise caution!
Bianca 30 January, 2014 13:53
Just spotted one outside our front door in daylight. Happy to let it be since not dangerous but do we have to worry for our dog?
Sarah 1 February, 2014 17:25
I had one of these in my house this morning, Tweed Valley NSW. My 6yo daughter found it...and after lots of screaming from both of us, it's outside.
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Carol Knudsen 9 February, 2014 09:13
Found one in our house last night (Imbil, Qld) about 30cm long & feisty...safely caught and put temporarily in a bucket....relocated it after we researched what it was.
Bob Lott 11 May, 2014 00:56
Manager at my farm 10kms eastern side of Keith SA has now found 3 very pale (almost white/cream) 30-35 cms long snakes with distinct red bar at back of head - one in the bath! Just recently and only this year. He refuses to let them go and kills them but I could persuade him to re-locate probably in Ngarkat National Park - (30 kms away --- is there any value in doing that????
Discovery Centre 23 May, 2014 10:30
Hi Bob, museum staff believe the snakes that are being seen are more likely to be juvenile brown snakes as no Furina species are recorded as far south as Keith. Without an appropriate licence killing or moving snakes is illegal; although relocation would be preferable for the snake. However adult and juvenile brown snakes are highly venomous and we do not recommend anyone who is not an expert, licensed handler attempting to move them. I understand a potential brown snake in the bath is far from pleasant, (to put it mildly), but please be aware that many of the snake bites that occur happen when people try to kill them.   
Discovery Centre 23 May, 2014 10:57
Hi Bob, I meant to mention that it would also be worth keeping grass around the buildings low and reducing the amount of scrap metal, wood or rubbish around the buildings. Even moving a pile of firewood away from a house could significantly reduce the chance of a snake turning up in the bath tub.
Kelly Lovell 10 March, 2015 20:53
Just caught one on our back verandah at terramungamine / Dubbo Nsw also thought it was a baby brown ..long way from home then ..
Dave gregory 9 April, 2015 19:55
Just caught a red named snake in my back room at Bulga, Nsw. this is the second one I have caught here in the past 18months
Nathan 18 April, 2015 16:08
Are these snakes only found in Victoria? I live on the qld nsw border and am fairly certain we have come across a nest of these whilst moving dirt on our farm???
sharon 25 September, 2015 14:05
Picton NSW. Just found approx 35cm light brown snake. Black head with distinctive red oval patch on back rear section of head. Cream underbelly. Also it has nearly finished shedding. It is hardly moving and only moves slightly when touched. Looks sick. I have wet it a little and it looks much better (colour deepened) but still not really moving. What should I do with it?
Discovery Centre 26 September, 2015 12:25

Hi Sharon,

Please leave the snake where you found it and contact the NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service (WIRES) as it is not only dangerous to handle venomous creature such as snakes, it is also illegal to handle native animals without a licence. WIRES Wollondilly should be your closest service.

Tom 18 October, 2015 18:26
How much of SA do these snakes call home? I live in Hamley Bridge and have relocated 2 snakes I believe to have been Red Naped snakes within the last fortnight as they were in my lounge room. I have photos of each. Also although not deemed dangerous to humans are they believed to be dangerous to cats, dogs and other pets?
Discovery Centre 19 October, 2015 10:36
Hi Tom! The Australian Reptile Online Database (AROD) has a profile for the Red-Naped Snake that includes a national distribution map. You can compare your location with this map, but as always, please assume that any snake you encounter is potentially deadly - juvenile brown snakes have nape markings very similar to this species. Juvenile snakes are no less venomous than adults, and can be more inclined to bite.
Roz Heness 23 November, 2015 09:49
Hi, we've just encountered one of these little beauties whilst gardening on a property outside Rockhampton in Central Queensland. Totally amazed as we usually contend with Taipans and Brown Snakes.