Yellow-faced Whipsnake Demansia psammophis

Snakes of Victoria series


The Yellow-faced Whipsnake, Demansia psammophis, is a slender, pale brown snake with a conspicuous yellow, comma-shaped mark around the eye and a narrow dark line across the snout. It has 15 rows of mid-body scales, a divided anal scale and over 60 divided subcaudal scales. It grows to a maximum length of 80 cm.

Photo of Yellow-faced Whipsnake

Yellow-faced Whipsnake
Photographer: Peter Robertson. Source: Wildlife Profiles Pty. Ltd.

Distribution and habitat

This species occurs along the Murray River and in the Sunset Country, in the north-west of Victoria.

Biology and bite

The Yellow-faced Whipsnake is a fast-moving species which preys on lizards. Each female lays a clutch of 4-9 eggs. Larger clutches, comprising the contributions of more than one female, have been found in soil cracks.

It is not considered dangerous to adults, although a bite may cause local pain and discomfort. 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 (10)

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Maureen Ryan 21 December, 2010 21:28
Hi, we live at St Albans NSW and we have a rockery around our house. We have seen 6 yellow faced whip snakes and intend to remove the top layer of the rockery as we have a three year old. How dangerous are these snakes to young children (we are relieved they are not brown snakes as we originally thought).
Jordan Fry 18 April, 2017 19:31
Can you get yellow faced whip snakes as pets in Victoria?
Discovery Centre 22 December, 2010 13:12
Hi Maureen, unfortunately the Museum is not able to advise on snake venom. The best place to contact is the Australian Venom Research Unit, see here.
emily hampton 1 January, 2011 11:07
This morning we found a small snake but we don't know what kind dad is thinking the yellow faced whip snake but we are have trouble finding what kind it is now it is the backyard and we are worried about our dog. Is there any other way to tell what type it is? What if he bites my dog.
Discovery Centre 5 January, 2011 15:32
Hi Emily, unfortunately the Museum's Herpetologist needs to see an image of the snake to try and confidently identify the species. If you got a good look at it you may be able to identify it from the Museum's Bioinformatics website, which has images of all the snake species found in Victoria.
Marta 10 September, 2014 14:30
Hi, I'm writing from a station in Nullarbor plain, close to Madura (WA). Just one hour ago one of these little snakes was taking a nap outside the kitchen.. As well as other viewers I'm relieved that's not a brown snake or one of the big bad ones that usually live in this area! Anyway, it's a long walk from Victoria, isn't it?
Ken 9 December, 2016 00:07
Hello. I am trying to identify a snake breed that I've spotted several times on my property. I live in in Northern Victoria in close proximity to both the Murray, and Goulburn Rivers. Both sightings have been pale-green snakes skins looking quite 'silky', quite like the yellow-faced whip snake pictured above. At least one snake had a pale /white under body, and both had small holes (Iike nostrils) behind their eyes. They were very quick moving too. Could you shed some light as t what species of snake this might be? Thank you, Ken
Discovery Centre 9 December, 2016 10:23
Hello Ken - Whilst we can't make an ID from a description, you are always welcome to send us an email with a photo if you manage to snap one next time you see this snake on your property (using proper caution of course). Otherwise, you can search species by location and type using the Atlas of Living Australia.
Jordan Fry 18 April, 2017 19:29
Can you own a yellow faced faced snake in Victoria as a pet?
Discovery Centre 19 April, 2017 13:33
Hi Jordan, 

For all wildlife licensing enquiries, please contact the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
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