White-lipped Snake Drysdalia coronoides

Snakes of Victoria series

The White-lipped Snake, Drysdalia coronoides, is readily identifiable by the presence of a conspicuous white stripe along the upper lip. The back colour is variable, from brick-red, through to olive-green or dark grey, while the belly is usually a salmon pink colour.  It has 15 rows of mid-body scales, a single anal scale and 38-67 single subcaudal scales. This is a small species with a total length of less than 50 cm.

Photo of White-lipped Snake, Drysdalia coronoides

White-lipped Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The White-lipped Snake is quite common in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and occurs throughout the forested areas of southern Victoria, often in wetter habitats.

Biology and bite

While active day and night, the White-lipped Snake is rarely seen, preferring areas of heavy cover. It is usually encountered basking in the sun. Its diet consists of small lizards and occasionally frogs. Females produce 3-10 live young in late summer.

The White-lipped Snake is not usually dangerous to humans.

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 (42)

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Christopher J Deutscher 31 March, 2009 22:05
Thank you! I found what I was looking for at first search.
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nick hansen 14 April, 2009 20:54
thanks for your website! we came accross a white lipped snake down at carlisle river over easter and your website made identification very easy! Cheers, Nick
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Mel K 17 April, 2009 20:36
very good resource! thanks
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Nick B 18 December, 2009 09:47
Great identification pages - we found a while lipped snake in the Grampians National Park and wanted to know what it was - thanks!
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glenda 26 December, 2009 10:18
Great site, we found one in our en-suite, had to get a professional to remove it, he said it was looking for water.
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Gina H 30 December, 2009 10:38
I live near Tathra on the South Coast of new South Wales. I saw one of these just now, eating a tiny skink in my garden. I have seen them several times over the last 6 yrs in the same part of my garden.
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penny hanham 11 January, 2010 21:00
I saw a snake W of Apollo Bay on 26th Dec on the great ocean walk, but thought it was slightly longer than 50cm. The colouring was right for a white lipped snake. Is that likely?
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Discovery Centre 12 January, 2010 16:08

Hi Penny. As white-lipped snakes are famously small (many sites advertise their maximum length as 40 cms) you may have seen a different species, while walking. There are photographs of various Victorian snake species that you can consult at our bioinformatics website. Do you any of them look familiar?

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Justin Cooper 14 January, 2010 18:42
We've been living in the Wombat Forest for just over a year now. Today we saw our first snake, about 25 cm long, brick red body with pinkish underside, the back of the head was greyish and a white lip underneath. Whilst the colouration was different to your images we did find exact matches on Google after your descriptions matched...thank you for this site! It helped replace any fear with wonder, and helped me educate my son on this beautiful animal.
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Christopher 7 August, 2013 23:34
They are indeed beautiful creatures...but... they ARE venomous, with fangs so far back in their mouths so as not to be generally dangerous to humans. But they are venomous!!
penny hanham 14 January, 2010 21:05
Thanks for that, it appeared to be slatey black and I see that copperheads and tiger snakes sometimes look like that. I should have taken a photo! I didn't realise how many species there are. We only have 3 in the UK.
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Gill Parker 24 February, 2010 18:26
We encountered this snake at home in Blairgowrie. It was olive green in colour and very timid. Already knew it was a white lip as is the second one we have seen in our back yard.Colouring different as first one was tan in colour.
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John Huddle 28 February, 2010 16:25
We found a White-lipped Snake on 28 February 2010 in our home at Sorrento. It was approx. 20cm long and lying on the tiled floor asleep. We are not sure how it came to be inside the house. We captured it and then phoned the local Snake Catcher who identifed it as a White-lipped Snake and harmless. Once it warmed up it became very active so we have now released it back into its environment.
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Rick 1 April, 2010 14:34
I am looking to buy a white lipped snake can someone help me.
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Discovery Centre 1 April, 2010 16:40

Hi Rick, consider joining a Herpetologist Society, such as the Australian Herpetological Society.  You can find contact details here: http://www.ahs.org.au/ 

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Laura 20 June, 2010 15:34
is the white lipped snake becoming endangered???
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Discovery Centre 22 June, 2010 10:34

Hi Laura, as it says in our infosheet above, the white-lipped snake is very common. It's not threatened in the wild.

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Denise Robbins 10 October, 2010 22:28
just relocated a white lipped snake this morning our cat had it on the front lawn was going to help it kill it as we have 7 small children but when i saw it was a whitelipped snake i moved it. Kennedys Creek
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Andre 28 February, 2011 14:39
Why does it say "Not usually dangerous to humans "? You would think it is or it isnt, whats the story?
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Jane Hodges 2 March, 2011 15:31
we have just identified a white lipped snake in our garden, in Ballarat, as we have many dogs, can you please advise if their bite is toxic to dogs. Have caught the snake & returned it to the Nerrina wet land over the road.
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Discovery Centre 5 March, 2011 13:27

Hi Jane, the Australian Venom Research Unit are the people to ask about the potency of venom.  You can find contact details here.

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Discovery Centre 5 March, 2011 13:43

Hi Andre, thanks for the question.  We have chatted with the Herpetologist and she is not an expert on the venom of snakes, she has suggested that the Australian Venom Research Unit will be able to answer this question definitively, as they are the experts in this field.

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Geoff 9 March, 2011 10:49
I accidently stepped on one of these little fellas while walking in Thredbo last weekend. Got a quick close up photo before he slithered away. Surprised how timid it was really, especially after being stepped on.
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Sarah 21 March, 2011 20:49
Thanks for the info here - just saw 4 snakes on the Prom this weekend - I think 3 were white-lipped as although ranged in colour from olive green to a tiny black one (juvenile I think) they all had a very prominent white lip!
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Alex 9 April, 2011 00:04
Found one in the Jacuzzi (water cold) - we are in Lammermoor Krugersdorp. It got very cross when we wanted to take it out. i think it was after the frogs. This one was not shy.
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Betsy Corkran 20 April, 2011 18:43
Came across this snake basking in the sun on the Great Ocean walking track after torrential rains for several days. It stood its ground and wouldn't move off the track. I just waited and then finally nudged him/her with the tip of my walking stick. Still wouldn't budge. I nudged it again and then it took off quick as a wink giving up its spot in the sun so I could gratefully pass.
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James 9 August, 2011 12:13
Hi I have been wanting to see one for ages, where is a good spot to find one near hobart, Tas?
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gob 24 August, 2011 15:53
is it poisonous ??
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Brodie 18 September, 2011 21:07
Thanks for this resource on your site. I almost stepped on a small snake at Point Nepean over the weekend. It looked around 40-60cm long and was a light brown colouration. It had raced off into the bushes before I could get much more of a look. Is it likely it was a white-lipped snake or are there any other common species in the area that it may have been?
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Gabby 5 October, 2011 11:13
Hi, i saw one that was very dark brown it had the white stripe along its lip but it also had a thin white line behind it's eye, is it a whip snake or have i seen a diffent type of snake?
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Danny Goodwin 20 November, 2011 12:35
I live in George Town Tas.I am lucky to keep white-lipped snakes legally it would be good to hear from others who keep them
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Thanks 20 February, 2012 21:48
thank you very much I am thinking about getting a white-lipped snake, they have not been a threat to humans yet this is partly why I am thinking about it I love snakes and I would like to thank you for this website :)
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Elise D 23 June, 2012 23:08
Hello, i just wanted to ask where/how the genus name, Drysdalia, came about for this species? Was it named after a Drysdale?
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Discovery Centre 25 June, 2012 11:34
Hi there Elise, we have found your answer for you in the article E Worrell, 'Herpetological Name Changes' Western Australian Naturalist, p25. The footnote on the page indicates that Drysdale accompanied Worrell to the Tasmanian Islands where he collected the specimens for the study.
Diana 3 December, 2012 20:25
Just seem three white lipped snakes on my property basking in the sun. I am happy to know they are not venomous so I will let them be. I also have a tiger snake in my vegetable garden, do you think the tiger will eat the white lipped snakes? At the moment the tiger is keeping my rattus lutriolus ( Velvet coated swamp rat) population down.
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Discovery Centre 9 December, 2012 11:59

Hi Diana, Tiger Snakes will feed on frogs, tadpoles, fish, lizards, birds, mammals, carrion and even invertebrates. Depending on the location and habitat, their strongest preference is for frogs, followed by birds and mammals. They will also take snakes smaller than themselves, up to 300g (and White Lipped Snakes fall well within this range). Whilst it's possible the Tiger Snake will eat the White Lipped Snakes, it sounds like there are plenty of other prey in your area that they would prefer.

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Diana Trewenack 11 February, 2013 16:59
I have lived on the Great Ocean road for 15 years and never seen a white lipped snake. That is until this summer. I have had one in the vegetable garden, three on the path to the house and one inside my house on the tiles. Why such a population explosion of this species?
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Noel McWilliams 14 July, 2013 19:01
Hi I have just seen a snake on our property, surprised to see it out and about in July it's about 12 degrees here today (in Erica). I think it was a white lipped or a whip snake, it was grey in colour with what appeared to be a light coloured stripe from near its head along the side of its body?
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Dona 1 October, 2013 10:23
My moggy has just brought in one...( i am a responsible pet owner but they do have to roam around now and again0...anyway poor little fellow, he had a superficial wound...still not well...could his vertebra be broken from being shaken...thank you.
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Dona 1 October, 2013 11:22
Rang local N.P, so was able to get an answer.
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not saying 24 March, 2014 16:50
scientific names?
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Discovery Centre 25 March, 2014 13:13
Thanks for your question, notsaying - the scientific name of the White-lipped Snake is Drysdalia coronoides, as stated in the heading and first line of this information sheet, see above.