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Hoplocephalus spp., Broad-headed snakes

Clinical entries


  • 1. Hoplocephalus bitorquatus
  • 2. Hoplocephalus bungaroides
  • 3. Hoplocephalus stephensi


Serpentes; Elapidae; Elapinae/Hydrophiinae

Common names

Broad-headed snakes


  • 1. Pale-headed snake
  • 2. Sydney broad-headed snake, Yellow spotted snake
  • 3. Stephens banded snake


Eastern Australia. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.


  Map 35 Hoplocephalus spp.



Broad-headed snakes are excellent climbers and are sometimes found on bushes and low trees. H. stephensi and H. bitorquatus prefer ground with a good covering of vegetation, while H. bungaroides prefers stony surfaces. As they are very shy they are seldom seen. If approached, they display impressive warning behaviour. With raised, coiled upper body and wide open mouth they are prepared to strike repeatedly.

The head is reminiscent of viperids, as it is clearly distinct from the body. They only rarely reach a length of more than 1 m.


Bites are rare (mostly from animals in captivity). No known fatalities, but they are considered to be potentially dangerous.

Literature (biological)

Cogger 1986, Mirtschin et al. 1990, O'Shea 2005