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Genus/Species

 

Notechis scutatus, Tiger snake

Clinical entries

Species

  • 1. Notechis scutatus

 

The former species Notechis ater is suggested conspecific with Notechis scutatus (Keogh et al. 2005).

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Elapidae; Elapinae/Hydrophiinae

Common names

  • 1. Eastern tiger snake, Common tiger snake, Island tiger snake (N. ater), Tigerotter

 

 

  Fig. 4.60 Notechis scutatus in threatening pose.

 

Distribution

Southern and southeastern Australia. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.

 

  Map 36 Notechis spp.

 

Biology

Sturdy body with wide head. Venom fangs little longer than 3 mm. N. scutatus can reach a length of 1.2–1.5 m, or even somewhat longer (former N. ater). Colouring in shades of brown (N. scutatus) or dark to shiny black (former N. ater). Many individuals display dark cross bands (hence the name "tiger" snake).

Prefer swampy areas and riverbanks in mesic forests, where they hunt frogs, but some island populations (former N. ater) are better suited to living in dry areas. Notechis is also found in wetter and cooler zones in Tasmania. Populations on Flinders Island (former N. ater) feed only on mutton birds, which inhabit the island for only 2 months of the year; the remaining 10 months they go without food!

Though not particularly aggressive, N. scutatus is very dangerous, as it will allow humans to approach it within a few steps – something that is unusual among elapids. After assuming a threatening pose with slightly spread neck, they strike and inject venom by chewing motions.

Risk

Potent venom. Serious cases of systemic envenoming are described.

Literature (biological)

Cogger 1987, Mirtschin et al. 1990, Sutherland 1983, Keogh et al. 2005, O'Shea 2005, Wallach et al. 2014

The Reptile Database