Black snake

The black snake is one of several venomous snake species most commonly found on humans and domestic animals in Australia. It can be from one and a half to two meters long and is one of the largest snakes in Australia. She is also one of the most beautiful snakes with a glossy black back. She has a small, streamlined head and a lighter, brownish muzzle.

Origin and Description

Photo: Black Snake

Photo: Black Snake

The black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) is a species of snake breed found in eastern Australia. Although its venom is capable of causing significant morbidity, the black snake's bite is generally non-fatal and less venomous than that of other Australian snakes. It is common in the woodlands, forests and swamps of eastern Australia. It is one of Australia's most famous snakes, as it is common in urban areas along the east coast of Australia.

There are four types of black snakes:

  • red-bellied black snake;
  • collette snake;
  • mulga snake;
  • blue-bellied black snake.

Video: Black snake

The black snake genus includes some of Australia's most beautiful snakes, as well as (perhaps) its largest venomous variety — the mulgu snake (sometimes referred to as the “royal brown”). At the other end of the size spectrum from the mulga snake are the pygmy mulga snakes, some of which rarely exceed 1 meter in length. Black snakes are ecologically diverse and are found across most of the continent, except for the extreme southwest and Tasmania, in almost all habitat types.

Fun fact: Although red-bellied black snakes are fearsome in reality, bites from these snakes to humans are infrequent and often the result of direct human interaction with the snake.

In the amateur herpetology community, bites from red-bellied black snakes are often not taken seriously, which is unwise, as irreversible myotoxicity can be caused by envenomations of this snake if the antivenom is not administered quickly (within 6 hours of the bite).

Unlike many other Australian venomous snakes, black snake bites can be associated with significant localized damage, including necrosis (tissue death). As a result, in many cases, parts and even whole limbs had to be amputated after being bitten by these snakes. Another unusual consequence of black snake bites is transient or permanent anosmia (loss of smell).

Appearance and Features

Photo: How black looks snake

Photo: What a black snake looks like

The red-faced black snake has a thick body with a slightly pronounced head. The head and body are glossy black. The underside is red to cream with bright red undersides. The tip of the nose is usually brown. The red-bellied black snake has a prominent eyebrow, giving it a distinctive look. It can reach over 2 meters in length, although snakes around 1 meter long are more common.

Fun fact: In the wild, red-bellied black snakes tend to maintain their body temperature between 28° C and 31° C during the day, moving between sunny and shady areas.

The Collette snake belongs to the black snake family and is one of the most beautiful venomous snakes in Australia. Collett's snake — it is a heavily built snake with a stout body and a broad, blunt head barely distinct from its body. It has an irregular striped pattern of reddish to salmon pink spots on a darker brown or black background. The top of the head is uniformly dark, although the muzzle may be slightly paler. The iris is dark brown with a reddish brown rim around the pupil. The ventral scales are yellow-orange to cream.

Young black mulga snakes can be of medium build, but adults are usually quite robust, with a broad, deep head and bulging cheeks. On the back, flanks and tail they are usually two-tone, the darker color covering the distal to varying degrees and may be brown, reddish brown, copper brown or brownish black.

The base of the snake is usually yellowish-white to greenish-yellow, contrasted with a darker color for a reticulate effect. Individuals from the far north arid regions have almost no darker pigment, while the southern populations are almost black. The tail is usually darker than the body, and the upper part of the head has a uniform color, similar to the darkness of the body scales. The eyes are relatively small with a pale reddish brown iris. Cream to salmon belly.

Blue-bellied black snakes are predominantly shiny bluish or brownish black, with a dark bluish gray or black belly. Some individuals may be cream or pale gray with spots (hence their other name — spotted black snake). Others may be intermediate between the two, having a mixture of pale and dark scales that form thin broken transverse bands, but all forms have a uniformly dark head. The head is relatively broad and deep, barely distinct from the robust body. An obvious brow ridge is visible above the dark eye.

Where does the black snake live?

Photo: Black snake in nature

Photo: Black snake in nature

The red-bellied black snake is commonly associated with wet habitats, primarily bodies of water, swamps and lagoons (although they can also be found far from such areas), forests and grasslands. They also inhabit disturbed areas and rural holdings and are often found around farm drainage channels and dams. The snakes take shelter in dense grassy clumps, logs, burrows and mammalian sleep and under large stones. Individual snakes appear to maintain a range of preferred hiding places within their home range.

Red-bellied black snakes occur singly in north and east-central Queensland, and then more continuously from south-east Queensland to eastern New South Wales and Victoria. Another unrelated population is found in the southern part of Mount Lofty in South Australia. The species does not occur on Kangaroo Island despite claims to the contrary.

Collett's snake lives in warm temperate and subtropical chernozem plains, seasonally flooded by monsoon rains. They hide in deep soil crevices, sinkholes, and under fallen wood. These snakes are common in the drier areas of central inland Queensland. Mulga snakes have the widest distribution of any snake species in Australia, starting from the continent, with the exception of the extreme southern and general southeastern parts. They are also found in the southeast of Irian Jaya and possibly in the west of Papua New Guinea.

This species is found in a wide variety of habitats, from closed rainforests to grasslands, shrublands, and nearly bare hillocks or sandy deserts. Mulga snakes can also be found in heavily disturbed areas such as wheat fields. They hide in unused animal burrows, in deep crevices in the soil, under fallen wood and large rocks, and in deep crevices and stone depressions at surface exits.

The blue-bellied black snake can be found in a variety of habitats, from river floodplains and wetlands to dry forests and woodlands. They take shelter under fallen logs, in deep crevices in the soil or in abandoned animal burrows, and in dense matted vegetation. The snake is found west of the coastal ranges in southeast Queensland and northeast New South Wales.

Now you know where the black snake is found. Let's see what it eats.

What does the black snake eat?

Photo: Great black snake

Photo: Great black snake

Red-bellied black snakes feed on a variety of vertebrates, including fish, tadpoles, frogs, lizards, snakes (including their own species), and mammals. They search widely on land and in water for prey and have been known to climb several meters.

When hunting in water, the snake can forage only with its head or completely submerge. Prey captured underwater can be brought to the surface or swallowed while submerged. The snakes have been seen deliberately stirring up underwater sediment as they hunt, presumably to wash away hidden prey.

The Collette snake in captivity will feed on mammals, lizards, snakes, and frogs. Mulga snakes in the wild feed on a wide variety of vertebrate prey, including frogs, reptiles and their eggs, birds and their eggs, and mammals. The species also occasionally feeds on invertebrates and carrion.

Mulga snakes appear to be immune to the venom of at least one of their prey, the western brown snake, and show no ill effects when bitten by their own species. Unfortunately, the mulga snake is not immune to the toxic cane toad, which is thought to have led to the snake's decline in some northern parts of its range.

The blue-bellied black snake feeds on a variety of vertebrates in the wild, including frogs, lizards, snakes, and mammals. She also eats random invertebrates. Blue-bellied black snakes — primarily diurnal hunters, however they may feed late in the warm evenings.

Character and Lifestyle Features

Photo: Poison Black Snake

Photo: Venomous black snake

During the spring breeding season, male red-bellied black snakes actively seek out females and therefore spend more time in nature and travel farther than usual females (up to 1220 m in one day).

As the breeding season narrows, males decrease their activity and by summer there is no significant difference between males and females in the amount of time spent outdoors, they either bask or move around and both sexes bask less and become less active. than they were in the spring.

Collett's snake is a secretive and rarely seen species that is diurnal but can also be active on warm evenings. Mulga snakes can be active both during the day and at night (depending on temperature), with reduced activity during the afternoon and from midnight to dawn. During the hottest months, especially in the northern part of the range, mulga snakes become most active in the late evening and early hours after sunset.

Male fights and mating have been recorded in wild blue-bellied black snakes, occurring between late winter and early spring (late August & # 8212; early October). Combat appears to involve an initial bite, then a weave, and then a chase with bites.

Social Structure and Reproduction

Photo: Dangerous black snake

Photo: Dangerous black snake

Red-bellied black snakes usually mate in the spring, around October and November. During the breeding season, males fight other males to gain access to a female. The fight involves two opponents spreading their necks and lifting the front parts of the body, twisting their necks together and intertwining during the fight. Snakes can hiss loudly and bite each other (they are immune to their species toxin). This fight usually lasts less than half an hour, when one of the opponents concedes defeat by leaving the territory.

The female gives birth about four to five months after mating. Red-bellied black snakes do not lay eggs like most other snakes. Instead, they give birth to 8 to 40 live babies, each in their own membranous sac. The red-bellied black snake reaches sexual maturity in about 2-3 years.

Much of what is known about the breeding biology of Collette's snakes comes from observations of animals in captivity. The peak season for courtship and mating seems to be between August and October. The courtship observation was associated with the male following the newly introduced female, crawling up her back and making wobbles and twitches while hooking on her tail. Copulation can last up to 6 hours. Approximately 56 days after mating, the female lays 7 to 14 eggs (October to December) which hatch up to 91 days (depending on incubation temperature). The chick makes a series of longitudinal slits in the shell and can remain in the egg up to 12 hours before hatching.

In northern populations, mulga snake breeding may be seasonal or associated with the wet season. The time between last courtship and mating and oviposition varies from 39 to 42 days. Clutch sizes range from 4 to 19, with an average of about 9. Eggs can take 70 to 100 days to hatch, depending on the incubation temperature. In captivity, mating blue-bellied black snakes coil freely together with their tails coiled around each other. The male sometimes moves his head back and forth along the female's body during copulation, which can last up to five hours. After successful mating, the male no longer shows interest in the female.

Between 5 and 17 eggs are laid, which can take up to 87 days, depending on the incubation temperature. The young remain in their egg for one or two days after they cut open the egg, and then come out to start an independent life.

Natural enemies of black snakes

Photo: What a black snake looks like

Photo: What a black snake looks like

The only recorded predators of adult red-bellied black snakes other than humans are feral cats, though presumably they may be victims of other known ophidiophages, such as brown falcons and other birds of prey. Newborn and juvenile snakes face predation from smaller birds of prey such as kookaburras, other snakes, frogs, and even invertebrates such as red spiders.

Fun Fact: Red-bellied black snakes are susceptible to cane toxin, and die quickly from swallowing or even just touching them. Their decline in parts of Queensland and northern New South Wales is thought to be due to the presence of toads, although they are recovering in some areas.

Known endoparasite species include :

  • acanthocephalans;
  • cestodes (tapeworms);
  • nematodes (roundworms);
  • pentastomids (tongue worms);
  • trematodes.

Large mulg snakes have few enemies, but small specimens can become victims of birds of prey. Known endoparasites of the species include nematodes. Older individuals often carry large numbers of ticks. Given the human fear of any snake, many of these harmless animals die when people encounter them. Black snakes tend to run away quickly if they sense the presence of a human nearby.

Species population and status

Photo: Black snake

Photo: Black snake

Although the worldwide population of black snakes has not been estimated, they are considered common in the habitats they occupy. The local population of the red-bellied black snake has virtually disappeared due to the introduction of the cane toad. If the snake tries to eat the toad, it will fall prey to the secretions of the toad's venom gland. However, it now seems that some of these snakes are finally learning to avoid the toads, and their numbers are starting to recover.

Red-bellied black snakes are among the most commonly seen snakes on the east coast of Australia and are responsible for a number of bites each year. They are shy snakes and tend to only deliver a serious bite when they are bothersome. When approaching the wild, the red-bellied black snake will often freeze to avoid detection, and humans may unknowingly get quite close before registering the presence of the snake.

If approached too close, the snake will usually try to flee towards the nearest retreat, which, if placed behind the observer, may give the impression that the snake is launching an attack. If it fails to escape, the snake will stand up, holding its head and front with its back, but parallel to the ground, with a loud neck and hiss, and may even make false strikes with its mouth closed.

The black snake is well known in Australia from -for its distribution in the southeastern parts of the country, including urban areas. Attitudes towards these largely harmless snakes are slowly changing, however they are still often viewed as a dangerous threat and unfairly persecuted. Its venom is weaker than that of other snakes and there are no reports of these snakes killing people.

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