If we take in to consideration
how often we would be in the close proximity to a snake
if you happen to live in the bush, we realise just how shy
snakes are, they have no benefit in trying to bite us, it
is only done as a last resort out of fear.
The Eastern Brown Snake has the second most deadly toxin of all land snakes, and is considered extremely dangerous. Using a venom that is strongly neurotoxic and haemotoxic, they kill prey by envenomate and restriction. Responsible for the most deaths resulting from snake bite, the Eastern Brown now accounts for only one or two deaths a year as a result of effective treatment, and first aid education. Their status remains stable, and are classified as common. It has even been suggested that their numbers are on the increase in most areas.
Appearance and Characteristics
The name "Brown Snake" is misleading. Brown snakes range in colour from cream to rustic reds and black, and can be patterned from bands to spots. In fact, there are as many combinations as imaginable. Juveniles often go through several colours until they reach their adult colouring. They often have a black band around the nape of their necks.
Image by Michael McGrath
This diurnal snake is fast, quick acting, and may be active during hot nights. Averaging around 1.5 meters in length, they have been recorded up to 2.4 meters
When threatened or provoked, this snake will adopt the famous "S" pose, and will strike rapidly and repeatedly.
They have a slender body, and are surprisingly fast.
Although the Eastern Brown snake is known as a temperamental and dangerous snake, they will almost always avoid contact with humans. There is no benefit for them to attack a large prey item as a human, and given the chance, they will flee a confrontation and only strike as a last resort.
In early spring, males can be seen in ritualised combat to prove supremacy. Once dominance is asserted, he will mate with any females within his range. In late spring to early summer, females produce a clutch of 10 - 35 eggs. Hatchlings are usually about 20cms in length, and posses the same toxicity on hatching as their parents. They are capable of inflicting a fatal bite from the moment they are free of their shell.
Diet and Habitat
The Eastern Brown is found along the entire length of the Eastern Sea Board, from Cape York to Melbourne, and across into South Australia. It enjoys a large range of habitats from open grasslands, to dense scrub, but is rarely found in rainforest areas. It is also able to adapt to suburbia remarkably well.
Eastern Browns feed on a large variety of prey, they will eat birds, lizards, frogs, and any small mammals. They have also been known to eat anything that might resemble food, and have been known to eat plastics that strike their fancy.
if bitten by a venomous snake:
Do not wash the wound site.
Do not cut the wound.
Place an elastic bandage over the wound site and bandage
as far down the limb as possible, then back up the limb
as far as possible.
Keep the patient as quiet as possible. This can be hard,
but remember stress and fear will be the most visible signs
in most cases of snake bite and should be treated accordingly.
Call an ambulance and get to a hospital immediately.
Do not ask the patient to walk to a vehicle for transport,
bring the vehicle to the patient, the less movement on the
part of the patient, the better.
Identification of the snake is not necessary, so do not
attempt to capture or kill the snake to take to the hospital,
most hospital staff cannot positively identify a snake.
The Commonwealth Serum Laboratories have produced a snakebite
detection kit, which has been issued to all major hospitals
through out Australia. This kit enables the hospital staff
to safely take a swab from the wound site and after testing
they are able to tell which anti-venom is the correct one
to use. If the test is inconclusive, then a polyvalent serum
may be administered.
I feel very sorry for our venomous snakes, most of us are
frightened of them, and in many cases the snake suffer due
to our fear. They are not interested in attacking us; they
will usually try as hard as they can to get away.
If you find a snake inside, if possible leave it an avenue
of escape, close the room of if you can, and leave doors
and windows open so the snake can leave when it no longer
When walking outside at night or in the bush wear suitable
.Reference: Graeme Gow’s
complete guide to Australian Snakes
Eastern Browns come in a variety of patterns and colour's, never try to identify a snake unless you are trained to do so, it can be a deadly mistake.