Small-eyed Snake Cryptophis nigrescens

Snakes of Victoria series


The Small-eyed Snake, Cryptophis nigrescens, is uniform black or dark grey on the head, back and sides, with a silvery-white opalescent belly and very small eyes. It has 15 rows of mid-body scales, a single anal scale and 30-45 single subcaudal scales. It grows up to 50 cm in length.

Photo of Small-eyed Snake

Small-eyed Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The Small-eyed Snake is widespread in the warm, dry forests of southern and eastern Victoria.

Biology and bite

A secretive, nocturnal species, the Small-eyed Snake preys predominantly on scincid lizards. Females produce up to 7 live young.

Although small it is regarded as dangerous. 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 (9)

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Lynette Warn 11 October, 2010 23:48
Small eyed snakes are not only found in Victoria, we got rid of one out of our laundry today, and we are in the Gulf of Carpentaria, QLD.
diana 17 October, 2010 15:22
Can they be all black? I think this is what i found in my loungeroom a couple of days ago. it was very slender and fit into the track for the sliding window.I live in Cairns
Discovery Centre 18 October, 2010 11:51
Hi Diana - Melanism (dark/black colouring) is very common in snakes, and this snake can be a dark colour as part of its natural variation. They have small live litters, and this is breeding season, so it is possible you had a juvenile in your window. However, there are many species with small, dark juveniles! Please note, this is a venomous species, and as with all snake encounters, if you are unsure please contact a local snake handler or your local council for assistance.
Micah 15 February, 2011 08:40
hey snake catchers have got a few callouts for these guys lately as the humid weather is apparently bringing them out. i have seen them on the peninsula once. I was wondering if there were a few spots or spots that u could tell me so i could take photographs of them in the wild. i no a few places one in south east melbourne one to the north east of melbournes suburbs one to the east and one the the west which that population is not so good. Generally there distribution around melbourne is the north east and the east a few spots on the mornington peninsula and a spot out west and a few uncomfirmed records south west
Phil Jackson 23 March, 2011 17:56
Think we had one to day in Langwarrin...we're on 4 acres, Mornington peninsula area. Grey with a yellowish undertinge, timid...slid away quickly under a building, about 750cms long. Is that what it is most likely to be? Definitely grey.
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Discovery Centre 24 March, 2011 11:04

Hi Phil, thanks for the question.  Unfortunately, the herpetologist is not able to identify the snake from your description along, she would need an image, did you manage to take a photograph?  If so, send it in to us in the Discovery Centre, if not, keep the camera ready for the next time you are out on your property.

Shai 30 November, 2013 07:34
Hello, Does Cryptophis nigrescens have any natural predators? I'd really appreciate any information you might have on the spatial distribution of this species. Thanks!
Discovery Centre 7 December, 2013 11:59

Hi Shai,

There a number of predators for snakes including butcherbirds, goshawks, harriers, ibises, kites and kookaburras. Snakes are also parasitized for example by various ticks, nematodes and flukes. Humans of course have real impact on the success of their population – both positive and negative.


chris 5 February, 2015 17:05
I found a dead possibly small eyed snake on back path, crushed head and broken spine. All our animals were inside, what could cause these injuries? Early morning in far south coast.