Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The legless reptiles of Carwoola

As we have moved in to legless reptile spotting season I pondered some thoughts about the species of legless reptiles seen in the Carwoola area.  We have found two species on our property:

Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
Received wisdom is that where there is one of these species the other doesn't occur.  We also never see Tiger Snakes (Notechis scutatis) here.  I wondered what other people in the area could report about the occurrence of snakes in the area so sent an email to a few neighbours.

I have 11 reports covering specific places or the wider area.

All sites reported Eastern Brown Snake although in one case it was only one specimen in several years (but that was followed by another sighting the following day)!

7 sites reported Red-bellied Black Snakes.  1 case - with a large dam and a well watered garden - gave Red-bellied as the most common species and 2 others noted equal numbers of Red-bellied and Eastern  Browns.  In the latter two cases the Red-Bellied tended to be associated with watercourses or dams.  (1 of those sites was ours and I have seen a Red-bellied in the middle of a paddock, but heading up from one of our dams in the general direction of a neighbour's dam.)  A further site reported a Red-bellied under the letterbox, not close to a water course or dam.A couple of observers also commented that Red-bellied had been seen away from the properties, in one case referencing "close to the Molonglo.

Tiger Snakes were the dominant species on the Hoskinstown Plain.  They were also reported but as minority sightings from 2 sites on the fringe of the plain. A respondent with a role with Wildcare also noted Tiger Snakes were "mainly on the Plain".

Other species recorded as one observation of each at one site, over a long period of residence in the area, were Eastern Copperhead (Australaps ramsayi) and a Common Death Adder (Acanthopis antarcticus).

The number of snakes was not reported as high by any observer.  However this does call to mind a couple of adages/old wives tales*:

  • For every snake you see there are 10 you don't see;
  • In the bush in Australia you are never more than 60m from a snake of some sort!

*Sorry: I guess that should be "senior married female's narrations".


Judith Gray said...

This is really interesting - I have heard this also before that if you have black snakes, that you won't have brown... not here! We have seen over the last years both the Eastern Brown Snake and the Red-Bellied Black Snake and the Blue-bellied Black snake also - along with our neighbours. Also growing up on a farming property we also had both types. So far we have recorded 11 different species of snakes on our 19 acre property.

Flabmeister said...

Thanks Judith: it all adds to the interest. I have had an email from a friend who grew up on a farm in Northern NSW who also had both common species plus the occasional Tiger. (For those who don't follow - and you all should - Judith's patch is in SE Queensland.