Western Brown Snake Pseudonaja nuchalis

Snakes of Victoria series


The Western Brown Snake, Pseudonaja nuchalis, is usually more brightly coloured than the Common Brown Snake, but it can be very variable in colour and pattern. Individuals often have a jet black or extremely pale head and neck, followed by a variety of bands on the body. Occasionally they are uniformly brown, often with irregular dark scales on the neck. They have 17 rows of mid-body scales, a divided anal scale and 50–70 divided subcaudal scales. The snake has a heavy strap-like rostral scale on the snout and grows to about 1.5 m.

Photo of an adult Western Brown Snake

Adult Western Brown Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson / Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

Distribution and habitat

This species is widespread over the hotter regions of Australia and lives in a wide range of environments. In Victoria it is restricted to the far north-west.

Biology and bite

The Western Brown Snake is active day and night, preying on small mammals and reptiles. Females lay 20–40 eggs per clutch.

This is an extremely dangerous, fast-moving snake. 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 venom on the skin can be used to identify the appropriate antivenom.

Photo of a juvenile Western Brown Snake

Juvenile Western Brown Snake
Photographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty Ltd

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 (2)

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Natasha Pettit 18 February, 2015 21:57
We had a western brown snake in my back yard (juvenile). My husband was able to get it onto a shovel and through it over the vacant lot as there is no one behind us. What is the likely hood of another snake coming or its older relative? I have a young family and we spend a lot of time in our backyard. Please let me know ASAP. Thankyou
Discovery Centre 21 February, 2015 14:48
Hi Natasha, young Brown Snakes (Pseudonaja species) tend to disperse as soon as they emerge from their eggs to find a suitable habitat. If the snakes from your property find your property to be suitable habitat, there is every chance they will stay. Otherwise they will leave the area to search for somewhere better. You can reduce the suitability of your property by removing hiding places (sheets of tin or other refuse around the yard), reducing access to water sources, keeping grass cut low, and removing food sources such as rodents.
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