Red-bellied Black Snake

red-bellied black snake

Red Belly Black Snake Description What is a Red-bellied Black Snake?

The red-bellied black snake is a medium-sized venomous snake with a glossy black upper body and bright red or crimson sides and belly. It is Australia's most frequently encountered snake, accounting for 16% of all snake bites but is not aggressive and avoids humans.

The red-bellied black snake's head blends in with its body and lacks a visible neck area. It has no eyelids, round pupils, a noticeable brow ridge, and a pale brown snout. It is deaf and has a forked tongue. An adult red-bellied black snake can grow to 1.5 - 2m in length, with males slightly larger than females. A red-bellied black snake can live for up to 6 years.

While this snake is frequently called the Red Belly Black Snake, its correct name is Red- bellied Black Snake . Its scientific name is Pseudechis porphyriacus.

Red-bellied Black Snake —Attacks & Consequences

Red-bellied Black Snake Bite How the Red Belly Black Snake Attacks

Red-bellied Black Snake attacking a man

Photo: Red-bellied black snake biting a human

The red-bellied black snake would rather flee than bite a human. If it cannot escape, the snake may try to intimidate its aggressor by flattening its body, hissing loudly, and making mock strikes with a closed mouth. If provoked further, it will bite and inject venom into its victim. Sometimes, it may also cling to its victim and chew vigorously. Its bite can be excruciating, resulting in local swelling, prolonged bleeding, and even local necrosis.

The red-bellied black snake's venom contains neurotoxins (which destroy nerve tissue), myotoxins (which destroy muscle tissue), and coagulants (which cause blood clot)and has haemolytic properties (which rupture and destroy red blood cells).

Red-bellied black snake bites are rarely fatal. Most victims experience mild to negligible symptoms, such as bleeding and swelling at the bite site, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhoea, muscle pain, and general weakness. Due to the cytotoxin in the snake's venom, the victim may also pass red-brown urine caused by muscle damage. There is no record of any human death resulting from a red-bellied black snake bite. However, as people may react differently to the venom, taking any snake bite seriously and seeking medical attention as soon as possible is essential.

What to Do – If Bitten by a Snake

Red-bellied Black Snake attacking a man video

Video: Red-bellied black snake attack

Red-bellied Black Snake Habitat Where does the Red-bellied Black Snake Live?

Red-bellied Black Snake habitat and distribution map

Photo: Red-bellied black snake distribution map

Red-bellied black snakes live in moist habitats within forests, woodlands, and grasslands close to bodies of shallow bodies of water such as rivers, streams, swamps, and wetlands. They are found along the eastern seaboard of Australia, from south-eastern Queensland through eastern New South Wales and Victoria. They can also be found in parts of the Mount Lofty Ranges of South Australia. They can be found in small areas of north-eastern Queensland. (See map).

Red-bellied black snakes have adapted to the modern rural environments and can be found close to irrigation canals and dams. They rarely venture more than 100 meters from water. The snakes shelter under large rocks, in logs, in burrows and in clumps of grass. They seem to be territorial and have several shelters within their domain. They are active mostly during the day and warm evenings and nights.

Red-bellied Black Snake Diet What do the Red-bellied Black Snakes Eat?

Red-bellied black snakes predominantly eat frogs and tadpoles. They also eat lizards, fish, eggs, small mammals and other snakes—including members of their own species. Red-bellied black snakes may sometimes slither up trees for several meters in search of prey.

Red-bellied Black Snake eating eggs

Photo: Red-bellied black snake swallowing egg

The snake is known to forage in water where it may submerge itself completely and swim underwater in search of prey. It can stay submerged for as long as 23 minutes. It may also intentionally stir up underwater sediment to flush out hidden prey. Captured prey may be swallowed while still underwater or, if large, brought to the surface to be consumed.

Red-bellied Black Snake Reproduction Baby Snakes are Born Alive

Red-bellied black snakes usually mate during spring, around October and November. During the breeding season, they will fight other males to gain access to a female. Jousting involves the two rivals spreading their necks and rearing up their fore-bodies and twisting their necks around each other and getting entwined during the struggle. The snakes may hiss loudly and bite each other (they are immune to their own species' toxin). This jostling usually lasts for less than half an hour with one of the contenders conceding defeat by leaving the area.

Red-bellied Black Snakes

Red-bellied Black Snakes fighting video
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The female gives birth about four to five months after mating. Red-bellied black snakes give birth to between 8 and 40 live young. They are about 122mm in length at birth and are born with well-developed venom glands, which make their bite just as toxic as that of their parents. Most young do not survive to adulthood. They fall prey to birds such as the kookaburra, other snakes, and frogs, etc. A red-bellied black snake reaches sexual maturity at around 2 to 3 years.

Red-bellied Black Snake Threats and Predators Is the Red Belly Black Snake Endangered?

The red-bellied black snake does not have any significant predators. It is not a threatened species. There are many of these snakes in the wild. They are, however, susceptible to the following threats.

Cane Toad

Photo: Cane Toad

There was some initial concern about the rapid decline in the population of the red-bellied black snake after the introduction of the Cane Toad in 1935. The snake was eating the highly toxic toad and dying. It appears however, that the snake and cane toad seem to be co-existing in the wild. There are two theories put forward. The first is that the snake has learned to avoid eating the toad. The second is that natural selection is at play as it appears that the snakes have gradually got longer since 1937. While a single cane toad could poison a smaller snake the large snake, due to its bigger body mass, may survive a single cane toad ingestion. So natural selection has favoured bigger snakes.

Feral cats are known to attack and kill red-bellied black snakes. They also fall prey to large birds of prey such as the brown falcons. Juvenile snakes also fall prey to kookaburras.

Given the human fear of any snake, many of these harmless animals are killed when humans encounter them.

Red-bellied Black Snake Bite Prevention How to Avoid Being Bitten

Red-bellied Black Snake mouth and fangs

Photo: Red-bellied black snake mouth and fangs

Most bites occur as a direct result of people cornering the snake and trying to kill it. The simplest safety precaution is the leave the snake alone. Move away slowly and calmly and let it slither away on its own accord. Call a snake-catcher if necessary to remove it. Do not attempt to handle a snake even if it appears dead as it can reflex-bite up to several hours after death.

When travelling through areas the snake is likely to inhabit, avoid going off the beaten track and into areas with dense undergrowth Wearing long pants thick socks and solid footwear will significantly reduce the chances of suffering from a snake bite.

25 Red-bellied Black Snake Facts

  1. The red-bellied black snake is a medium-sized venomous Australian snake.
  2. It is about 1.5 - 2m long.
  3. Some have grown to 2.5 metres in length.
  4. It lives along the east coast of Australia.
  5. The red-bellied black snake prefers moist habitats close to water.
  6. They rarely venture more than 100 meters away from water.
  7. It hunts on land and in water and can even climb trees.
  8. It is usually active when it's dark.
  9. Red-bellied black snakes mostly eat frogs and tadpoles, lizards, fish, eggs, small mammals.
  10. But sometimes, it also eats other red-bellied black snakes.
  11. It can stay underwater for 23 minutes.
  12. Like most snakes, it is deaf and has no eyelids.
  13. The red-bellied black snake belongs to the elapid family of snakes.
  14. It has small hollow syringe-like fangs to inject its venom.
  15. It is non-aggressive and avoids humans.
  16. It only attacks under extreme provocation.
  17. But it is the snake most frequently encountered by humans.
  18. It accounts for 16% of all snake bites.
  19. Red-bellied black snake venom is low in potency and output compared to other snakes.
  20. Bite symptoms include swelling at the site of the bite, nausea, vomiting, headache, diarrhoea, muscle pain, and general weakness. And passing red-brown urine.
  21. No deaths have been recorded from its bite.
  22. Do not attempt to handle a red-bellied black snake even if it appears dead. It can reflex-bite up to several hours after death.
  23. It shelters in thick grass clumps, logs, burrows and under rocks.
  24. Females are ovoviviparous. That means females give birth to live young.
  25. A red-bellied black snake can live for up to 6 years.

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