Western Brown Snake Pseudonaja nuchalis

Snakes of Victoria series

Identification

The Western Brown Snake, Pseudonaja nuchalis, is usually more brightly coloured than the Common Brown Snake, but it can be very variable in colour and pattern. Individuals often have a jet black or extremely pale head and neck, followed by a variety of bands on the body. Occasionally they are uniformly brown, often with irregular dark scales on the neck. They have 17 rows of mid-body scales, a divided anal scale and 50–70 divided subcaudal scales. The snake has a heavy strap-like rostral scale on the snout and grows to about 1.5 m.

Photo of an adult Western Brown Snake

Adult Western Brown Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

This species is widespread over the hotter regions of Australia and lives in a wide range of environments. In Victoria it is restricted to the far north-west.

Biology and bite

The Western Brown Snake is active day and night, preying on small mammals and reptiles. Females lay 20–40 eggs per clutch.

This is an extremely dangerous, fast-moving snake. If bitten on a limb, apply a pressure bandage, immobilise the limb and seek medical advice immediately. If bitten elsewhere, apply continuous direct pressure to the bite site. Do not wash the wound, as venom on the skin can be used to identify the appropriate antivenom.

Photo of a juvenile Western Brown Snake

Juvenile Western Brown Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

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.

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