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Australia has approximately 150 species of land snake as well as a further 30 sea snakes. They vary in size, color, characteristics, and how venomous they are. Although Australia is home to some of the deadliest snakes in the world, and about a dozen different species have enough venom to potentially kill a person, education and the existence of effective anti-venoms means that less than three deaths per year are attributed to venomous snake bites.
We have listed 34 of the most commonly found species of snake in Australia, starting with 11 of the deadliest and including some of the most interesting water snakes in Australia. Read on for more.
Eastern Brown Snake
The Eastern Brown Snake is fast and aggressive and the brown snake group is responsible for more snake deaths than any other group in the country. The Eastern Brown lives in populated areas and is especially at home in farms, where it can find a steady supply of its primary food source: mice.
Western Brown Snake
The Eastern Brown Snake is found throughout most of the country. It is a plan brown snake but what it lacks in vibrant colors, it makes up for in venom and this is one of the most venomous snakes in Australia, made all the more deadly by the fact that the bite is almost painless and incredibly difficult to detect. It is not as aggressive as the Eastern Brown Snake.
Mainland Tiger Snake
Named for its tiger stripes, the Mainland Tiger Snake is responsible for the second-most number of bites of any snake in Australia, and a bite will prove fatal if it is left untreated. This is another species of venomous snake in Australia that is commonly found in urban areas and it hunts nocturnally for mice.
The Inland Taipan, also called the fierce snake or small-scaled snake, is thought to have the highest toxin level of any snake in the world. However, it lives high in the mountains and is rarely around people, so is actually responsible for very few bites.
The coastal taipan, or eastern taipan, is found in slightly more built-up areas, often living in cornfields. The species has very long fangs and while it isn’t quite as strong as the inland taipan’s, the coastal taipan has a very strong venom that needs immediate attention. It can kill in less than 30 minutes.
The common copperhead, as it is also known, is another venomous snake. This one lives in the colder regions of Australia and is shy. It is more likely to hide away from people than it is to attack. Although it has a strong venom, the lowlands copperhead is slow to strike and is not always accurate.
The mulga is the largest of the venomous snakes in Australia, at least in terms of weight, and this deadly creature can deliver over 100mg of venom in a single strike. Southern mulgas usually stay away from people but their northern cousins can be more aggressive.
Red-bellied Black Snake
The red-bellied black snake does not have as strong a venom as many of the others listed above, but it is commonly found around towns and cities and it is a large species, measuring 2m in length. Bites will not usually kill but they can make you very ill with blood clotting and nerve damage.
The small-eyed snake is another species whose appearance belies its venomous nature. It only grows to around 50cm and is colored black or dark grey. There is one known case of a fatality caused by this snake, and its venom can continue to destroy muscles for several days after a bite.
Common Death Adder
The common, or southern, death adder is a formidable ambush predator, which means that it sits and waits for unfortunately prey to stumble on it. It uses the end of its tail like bait to attract small animals but they only tend to bite people when touched. They can be found in long grass, however, so it is possible to step on one unknowingly.
The 2-meter-long dugite lives off the common house mouse which means that it is found in urban areas. It is considered very dangerous because of its proximity to peoples’ homes and because it is highly venomous. It hisses loudly before attacking and it will usually attempt a high strike.
Olive Sea Snake
Australia is also home to dozens of species of sea snakes, including the olive sea snake. Depending on where in the country it is found it can vary the olive color that gives it its name to an orange color. It is a curious, almost friendly snake, and will investigate boats and swimmers in its proximity.
Turtle-headed Sea Snake
The turtle-headed sea snake is venomous, but its venom is only mild. It eats fish eggs and has a snout that gives it a similar appearance to that of a turtle, hence its common name. This snout is actually used to remove eggs from coral and to direct females during mating.
Leaf-scaled Sea Snake
Overlapping scales give this sea snake the appearance of being covered in leaves. It eats fish and has small fangs to help it hunt and kill prey. The leaf-scaled sea snake was believed to have gone extinct but has since been rediscovered.
Horned Sea Snake
The horned sea snake is also found in Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines, and it has scales that protrude from above its eyes, giving the appearance of having horns. It has been described as dragonesque and the species will grow to a length of over 1 meter.
Small-headed Sea Snake
The small-headed sea snake has a functional body shape, with a tiny head and first section of its body. This tapered design allows the snake to get into the burrows of eels. It is found all around northern Australia and can come in a variety of colors and patterns.
Yellow-bellied Sea Snake
The yellow-bellied sea snake has a very distinctive and brightly colored, yellow belly. It can swim backward and forwards and the species will gather in large numbers and float together on the surface of the sea.
Stokes’ Sea Snake
With the appearance of a large eel, it is little wonder that the Stokes’ sea snake has the honor of being the largest of water snakes in Australia. It eats catfish, pufferfish, and other spiny sea dwellers, and uses its size as well as sharp fangs to help it take down its quarry.
Elegant Sea Snake
The elegant sea snake can grow up to three meters in length and its size, as well as the fact that it is caught by fishermen by mistake, means that it is one of the most commonly seen of all water snakes.
Dubois Sea Snake
The Dubois’ sea snake is not only a sea snake but one of the most venomous snakes in Australia. Only the taipan and the eastern brown snake are known to be more venomous. The Dubois is found at the bottom of the sea feeding on the fish that are found in these depths.
The Pygmy Python
The pygmy python, as the name suggests, is very small. It has a red or brown head but despite its size, it eats small geckos and other small lizards. They are sometimes referred to as anthill pythons because they are most often found in termite mounds and anthills.
Australian Scrub Python
The largest snake species in Australia is the Australian scrub python. It can grow as long as 8 meters and lives in rainforests. Occasionally, one of these giants can be found in urban areas, although its sightings are likely because its size makes it virtually impossible to miss.
The carpet python is one of the most common python species in the country. It can range in color from green to black and incorporate different patterns. Although they usually measure 2 meters long, the carpet python can grow to double this length and they primarily eat rodents: commonly found in the attics of peoples’ homes.
Named after the naturalist John George Children, the Children’s python lives in northern Australia and is a small python that grows less than one meter. They can be seen in towns and cities and should not be feared. They can sometimes be seen fighting over females.
Black with cream and yellow colored diamond patterns, the diamond python is another species that can be seen in rural and urban settings. Like all pythons, though, this one is not deadly so does not pose a risk to people.
Green Tree Snake
Although they are most often a green color, the common tree snake as it is more properly known can be found in black or even blue. They have large eyes and can be found hanging from trees or snaking around them. They can also live by rivers. They eat frogs and are not a threat.
The white-lipped snake is a venomous snake that eats skinks. It can live in colder conditions than any other snake in Australia and can even be found living in the freezing snowy conditions of Mount Kosciuszko.
The bandy-bandy snake, or hoop snake, is venomous and, according to experts, a bite could prove fatal if the victim does not seek anti-venom treatment quickly.
The Oenpelli python is only found in the Arnhem Land region of Australia and is considered a large snake species. It is also one of the rarest of all snake species but it is hoped that recent efforts will see its numbers grow and it is saved from extinction.
Desert Death Adder
There are, in fact, several types of death adders. In this case, the desert death adder is named for where it is found, and its dusty orange and brown hues are also a testament to this fact. It is highly venomous, although anti-venom work means that there are now very few fatal cases of bites.
The keelback is a non-venomous snake. It will only grow to around 70 or 80 centimeters when fully grown and it is well-known for its ability to eat cane toads, which are toxic toads, without being affected by the toxin. This species travels a lot, sometimes moving nearly a kilometer in a single night.
The woman python, or sand python, is striking in appearance and its docile nature and relatively easy feeding requirements, do make it a popular choice of pet snake species. However, they do have a similar appearance to that of the western brown snake, and this similarity may have contributed to it becoming a critically endangered species in some areas.
Brown Water Python
The nocturnal brown water python is a meter-long python that has a yellow belly and, because it’s a python, is non-venomous. It can grow to a length of three meters so is usually easily spotted if you are in the vicinity of one.
Rough Scaled Python
This is another rare species of snake. It has large scales which makes them appear rougher because they are more likely to protrude from the snake. They eat mice and rats, and the species has very long teeth especially when compared to the size of the head and the rest of the snake.
Snakes In Australia
While there are a lot of species of venomous snakes in Australia, there are dozens of species that are non-venomous, and the existence of anti-venom and education on how best to act around snakes to avoid confrontation means that snakebite fatalities are actually very rare with less than three a year, on average. We have listed 34 Australian species, but this really is the beginning of what is a very long and varied list.
Featured Image Credit: Ken Griffiths, Shutterstock
Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts’ knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.
Amazing Australian PYTHONS!
Today we look at Pythons! Lots of different snake species including Rough Scaled Pythons, Green Tree Pythons, Olive Pythons, Childrens Pythons, Water Pythons, Jungle Pythons, Diamond Pythons and more as we revisit my friend Luke at Beaches Scaly Beasts! Make sure you follow Luke on his Youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/ratattack2097 and Facebook page!! https://www.facebook.com/Beachesscaleybeasts
Massive thanks to Luke for having me over!
Let me know in the comments below what your favourite Python was!
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