The Alpine (or Highland) Copperhead, Austrelaps ramsayi, is variable in colour and pattern, ranging from pale brown to black, always with prominent white edging on the scales of the upper lip. It has 15 mid-body scale rows, a single anal scale and single subcaudal scales. Adults grow to about 1m long.
Alpine Copperhead (black form)Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
This snake prefers reasonably damp habitats, near streams or swampy areas. It is common in the higher altitudes throughout eastern Victoria.
This snake is active both day and night and feeds on small vertebrates, including frogs, lizards and small mammals. Females give birth to up to 30 live young in mid to late summer.
Alpine Copperheads are extremely dangerous and capable of inflicting fatal bites, but they are not usually aggressive and bites are uncommon.
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 the venom on the skin can be used to identify the appropriate antivenom.
Alpine Copperhead (brown form)Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
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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