Little Whip Snake Rhinoplocephalus flagellum

Snakes of Victoria series


The Little Whip Snake, Rhinoplocephalus flagellum, is a small brown, black-headed species usually with a narrow pale bar across the snout, no vertebral stripe and an unmarked white belly. It has 17 rows of mid-body scales, a single anal scale and 15-40 single subcaudal scales. It has a total length of up to 50cm.

This snake may be confused with a juvenile Brown Snake, however juvenile Brown Snakes have dark collars.

Photo of Little Whip Snake

Little Whip Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

The Little Whip Snake is found throughout south-western, central and north-eastern Victoria and is common on the basalt plains in the western suburbs of Melbourne. It prefers eucalypt woodland and associated grasslands, particularly stony hills, and is found sheltering under rocks and logs.

Biology and bite

Active at night, its diet consists of small lizards. Females give birth to as many as 7 live young.

The Little Whip Snake is not considered to be dangerous to adults. Envenomation will cause only minor swelling, unless the victim experiences an allergic reaction to the venom. 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 (16)

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david symes 16 December, 2010 12:28
hello, do you have a photo comparision between the whip snake and juvenile eastern brown?
Discovery Centre 19 December, 2010 13:57
Hi David, there's a great image on the Australian Museum website of the Juvenile Eastern Brown Snake to which you can compare the Little Whip Snake.
David Leviston 14 October, 2011 07:38
Hello. For your information I'm giving you a sighting report. Yesterday,13/10/11, I discovered 3 Little Whip Snakes living together under some debris on the Rokewood Common, just south of the township. At first I thought they were juv browns but their habit was not agressive. Hope this is useful information for you. Cheers.
john love 14 February, 2012 13:56
very helpfull information for what i needed
deno 9 December, 2012 20:16
I found 4 little whip snakes sunbaking on the bank of winters swamp. Just outside of ballarat.
John Johnson 5 March, 2013 21:43
Killed one on front step of Seymour pub
Angus Wright 6 September, 2013 18:32
Discovered one in my shed at night, about 12cm long and not agressive. Caught it and relocated it to nearby bushland. In Amphitheatre, Victoria.
Shaneo 28 September, 2013 15:00
Found one of these little buggers about 50cm long out the plains near The terrick terrick forest in Victoria.
Alex 31 October, 2013 14:02
found one having a swim in our pool at home, we back onto farming and indigenous land. Sunbury Vic
Sandy 17 February, 2015 15:23
My wife unexpectedly located several adult little whip snakes under a old rusty piece of tin of approximately 1m square a few months ago. I placed a few logs around the tin. Had a look today counted 6 adults and a least 11 thin dark juveniles (about 8cm length). Most of the snakes then proceeded to disappear down cracks in the ground. Location about 20kms north of Camperdown, Vic
Alan 23 February, 2015 13:05
just recently went to warren NSW for camping, and have seen many of those once, one was just next to me on the left while was walking in the grass and it didn't attack me just raised its head so i've stepped back and it's gone, that's where i was'n sure it it was a brown family , also those places have plenty of red bellies and they are everywhere so browns would be eaten, also seen a 10cm baby snake with the same colors very slow one . nsw is very unusual place for those snakes.
Rosalba 23 March, 2015 08:23
Found 5 about 40cm in length. All dead in my backyard in Avondale Heights. Property backs on to a reserve. Had backyard sprayed with Biflex to rid ants 3 weeks ago. May have contributed to their death.
Darren 7 June, 2015 15:47
hi we just found a little whip snake in South Australia Mt pleasant summit. Not aggressive 😀
Belinda 11 December, 2015 19:13
Had a whip snake inside my daughters bedroom at Charleston SA
Charlesmccormack 24 January, 2016 15:23
Found one today about 12 inches on our veranda in Longlea. Never seen one before. Released into bush.
David 21 March, 2017 21:55
Discovered one on my driveway tonight after work, Tarneit Vic, 3029 21/3/2017
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