The Common (or Eastern) Copperhead, Austrelaps superbus, is variable in colour and pattern, ranging from pale brown to black, with 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 are up to 1.7 m long.
Common or Eastern Copperhead Snake (dark form)Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd
The Common or Eastern Copperhead prefers reasonably damp habitats, near streams or swampy areas. It is common and widespread at lower altitudes throughout southern Victoria.
It is active 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.
Copperheads are extremely dangerous and are capable of inflicting fatal bites. However, 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 continual direct pressure to the bite site. Do not wash the wound as the venom can confirm identification.
Common or Eastern Copperhead Snake (tan 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.
Hi Greg, a lot of the larger Australian venomous snakes will flatten their heads when threatened, although our snake expert has not seen a copperhead do it. She has seen tiger snakes and eastern brown snakes displaying this behaviour however.
Catherine - we've forwarded your question to our curator here, and she thinks the most likely candidate would be Common Copperhead. Red-bellied Black Snakes can have very indistinctly coloured or coppery bellies, however, I think that they just wouldn’t be found commonly around Lorne. Other than that we would need a photo for identification. If you are able to get a photo, feel free to forward it to us via the Contact Us link at the bottom of this page
Without a photo, we can't say for sure. Please refer to the Victorian Snakes page of our Bioinformatics website for further information.
You've done the right thing by contacting the snake catcher. Probably best to wait until the snake comes out itself. They are a protected species and I wouldn’t suggest trying to flush or lure it out; it should come out on its own accord in the mornings to bask and to eat as well. So if they see it come out, just keep an eye on its location and call the snake catcher again.
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