Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus

Snakes of Victoria series


The Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyiacus, is a shiny blue-black snake, usually with pink colouring on the lower rows of scales. It has 17 rows of mid-body scales, a divided anal scale and 40–65 subcaudal scales, with single anterior and divided posterior scales. It is a large snake: adults can reach over 2 m.

Photo of Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyiacus

Red-bellied Black Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

It is widespread in eastern Victoria; north of the Dividing Range it is often associated with water courses. It is also relatively common in Melbourne’s east and has been recorded around Bacchus Marsh, Park Orchards, Bayswater, along the Plenty River in the South Morang area and around the Merri Creek in the Campbellfield to Somerton area.

Biology and bite

This snake is active both day and night, and its diet consists primarily of frogs. Females can produce in excess of 16 live young.

Although the venom is not as potent as that of other venomous land snakes, this species is still dangerous. 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.

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 (23)

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Troy Denning 7 September, 2009 13:07
This species is quite common proximal to the Yarra river in Melbourne's outer east.
Michelle DIorio 12 March, 2010 15:18
Hi there, We were bushwalking at Cape Otway National Park, heading to Station Beach and came across unfortunately a dead black snake. It was only small but I am curious as to which species this could have been. It did not have a red belly nor a yellow. It was black all over... Hoping you can help me with my query. Many thanks, Michelle :)
Discovery Centre 13 March, 2010 12:06

Hi Michelle,

The Curator of Herpetology would need to see an image of the specimen to be able to undertake an identification. The snake you saw might have been a juvenile and so an image is needed to be confident in providing a species name. If you have an image please feel free to send it to Alternately this link is to the Museum's Bioinformatics website and has images of all snake species found inVictoria.


Troy Hungerford 5 March, 2015 20:09
guys work on our in San Remo came across a black snake with a yellow belly what could it be we have seen a couple of red belly blacks and copper heads on our block
micah bonnici 21 October, 2010 17:36
can you show me some good websites on red-bellied black snakes. also on saturday im going to look for some red bellys at lerderderg gorge. to my knowledge they can often be found basking on banks beside waterways particularly in the mornings
Discovery Centre 23 October, 2010 14:03
Hi Micah - You might like to try the Australian Venom Research Unit's site on the Red-bellied Black Snake, or there are links to more images on our Bioinformatics site. Enjoy your walk and don't forget to wear good shoes!
Emily Traynor 22 March, 2011 13:19
We had a juvenile red bellied black snake, approx. .5 metre long, moving along our fence line in suburban Rowville this morning. There is a wetland area area within 200 metres of our house. We have lived here for 16 years, and this is our first sighting.
Barry Wright 6 April, 2011 19:59
While walking on the tarmac path to 'London Bridge' on Vic south coast we saw what might have been a juvenile red bellied......about 18cm long, 5mm wide, jet black with bright red underside. It was sunning itself on the tar! Early April 2011
paul 30 December, 2011 13:50
I am living in the lower Nothshore. I have found the red-bailed snake from my cortyard during the day (11nish). I took a photo via my mobile and search the internet then identified it is one of red-baild snake.
stephen 22 May, 2012 21:24
i have seen a huge one at casey feilds dam cranbourne!also on holiday at rushworth! the one at casey was well over 2metres long!the width of a beercan!
sam 7 October, 2013 02:22
Hi i live in benalla vic (near shepparton) i was wondering if u could tell me the moat common snakes to my area and also if u do accidently run one over on the road what d o u do if it catches on ur wheels.
Discovery Centre 8 October, 2013 12:45
Hi Sam - you can find out about the snake species in your area using the Museum's Victorian Snakes Bioinformatics page here. We are a little stumped on the other part of your question, apart from advising standing well clear of the car once you pull over if you suspect the snake to be still alive; although we don't really have expertise on this sort of scenario.
Bernadene 3 November, 2013 16:31
One of these had been run over by a car and was dead on the side of the road in the Main Street of Seaspray, a coastal town on the ninety mile beach. It was long, prob 1.5 m. It may have come down from the sand dunes.
stephen 7 August, 2014 21:32
Hi ! Awesome! Me and a group of mates fish the surf up there! We always discussed what sorts of snakes frequent the 90 mile coast! All that area is surrounded by large lakes!
Doug Small 3 February, 2014 15:29
I saw a red bellied black snake at Rainbow in Victoria's Mallee. I was amazed at just how red its belly was. It was probably close to 2 metres in length.
stephen 7 August, 2014 21:38
Hi! I just wanna know what sort of snakes there are in golden beach Vic ninety mile coast? Any answers would would be much appreciated!
zac 19 October, 2014 15:36
i was fishing in the murray river when i saw a branch in the water i didnt take much notice and i looked again and it wasnt there it was right up against the side of the boat and just swan off
Jim 9 November, 2014 18:58
Saw a red belly on the Dandenong creek bike trail in baywater
dane jukovic 13 September, 2015 20:37
Fishing the river bank at queenspark, geelong and almost stood on one about 60 cm long.It was lying under a low branch with a birdnest in it.
Ben Shackers 1 October, 2015 11:46
On the eastern side of Yarra River & Mullum Mullum Creek in Templestowe one was curled up on the path. Nearly stood on it as it started to move. Exciting & scary moment for the kids.
Katerina 2 March, 2016 15:06
Hi, We just saw a massive (around 2 m long) probably black red bellied snake (it was black-blue shiny) crossing a path from the visitor centre to the Twelve Apostles! There was so many people around that area so we were shocked to see it.
scrubber 10 April, 2016 15:03
Hi I grew up in Central Highlands, lots of very large red bellied black snakes on our property (some 10 foot long easily, 3m !!) They always hung around water sources like swamps, dams and creeks, and were mostly docile and didnt worry us as we passed by. Until the day we were on the back of our dad's Landcruiser and driving slowly towards a creek when we saw two of these snakes in mating ritual, both facing each other and reared right up high (5 foot off the ground) and arched over at the head and neck, a bit like the shape of a shepherd's crook. They were weaving back and forth from one side to the other while up high and arched over, extremely elegant like a dance - reminded me of birds that do this too. As the Landcruiser came closer they both suddenly stopped and turned as one, then took off TOWARDS us at high speed, still raised high up off the ground, in perfect synchronisation. They were so high that they could have struck at us kids on the back of the truck easily, well my dad turned the truck around and they gave chase at alarming speed, he only managed to leave them behind when he hit 70km/hr - those snakes could move so astonishingly fast while still holding this unnaturally high position (approx 5 feet of head and body up off the ground, in a nearly vertical position, head thrust forward horizontally as they chased us. We learnt that day that mating red bellies do not appreciate interruptions, and that they will BOTH go at you at great speeds! Never had an encounter like it, we were very glad to be on a fast vehicle, I can tell you. Avoid these snakes in mating season!!
Paul hamilton 29 January, 2017 19:35
I have a problem(pretty sure it's a red belly black) too big and too black to be a brown snake. - it's moved in around the farm house near Kerang. I need to get rid of it (too risky for dogs, wife etc.) over last few weeks, seen it 4 times- once on the verandah beside the doormat as the dog startled it, once in the back shed under a sheet of black plastic, last week basking in some leaves about 5 meters from my backpackers campsite. and yesterday I startled it in the shed beside the hothouse. ITS GOT TO GO - what's the best way to to move it on or coax it into the open please. (seems lightning fast when it wants to, and also seems very shy- trying hard to stay out of sight.)
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