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Genus/Species

 

Pseudonaja spp., Brown snakes

Clinical entries

Species

  • 1. Pseudonaja affinis
  • 2. Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha
  • 3. Pseudonaja guttata
  • 4. Pseudonaja inframacula
  • 5. Pseudonaja ingrami
  • 6. Pseudonaja mengdeni
  • 7. Pseudonaja modesta
  • 8. Pseudonaja nuchalis
  • 9. Pseudonaja textilis

 

In line with Skinner (2009), the western populations of P. nuchalis are now known as P. mengdeni, and the southern populations as P. aspidorhyncha.

Taxonomy

Serpentes; Elapidae; Elapinae/Hydrophiinae

Common names

Brown snakes

 

  • 1. Dugite, Spotted brown snake
  • 3. Speckled brown snake
  • 4. Peninsula brown snake
  • 5. Ingram's brown snake
  • 7. Ringed brown snake
  • 8. Gwardar, Western brown snake
  • 9. Eastern brown snake, Common brown snake

Distribution

Australia and New Guinea. See link "Distribution" at the top of the page for detailed information.

 

  Map 39 Pseudonaja spp.

 

Biology

Generally diurnal, brown snakes live in vast areas of the continent in a variety of climatic conditions. They are most commonly found in arid regions, although some species also inhabit wet coastal forests (P. textilis) or the tropical forests of the north (P. guttata and P. nuchalis).

Brown snakes are long, slender and extremely agile. They have a narrow head that is hardly distinct from the body. P. textilis can reach a length of up to 1.8 m. As with most snakes, their colouring is not a reliable indicator for identification. Whilst some are a uniform shade of brown, they can also be a fawn, yellow or grey colour, and they can have patterns of bands or speckles.

Brown snakes cover large distances while hunting. P. textilis and P. nuchalis are not afraid of humans and are sometimes found on the outskirts of larger cities. When threatened, brown snakes display strongly defensive behaviour. In their warning pose they raise their upper body, spread their neck slightly and open their mouth wide. If this proves ineffective, they then strike high and rapidly.

 

 

 

  Fig. 4.62 Pseudonaja textilis in threatening pose.

 

Risk

P. textilis possesses one of the strongest known snake neurotoxins. Despite this, it is uncommon for a bite to cause neurological effects. In eastern Australia, this species is the main cause of dangerous snakebites. In the west of the continent, P. affinis and P. nuchalis are practically the only snakes that cause serious envenoming. The other Pseudonaja species possess less toxic venoms; however, apart from P. modesta, it seems that they can still cause serious systemic envenoming.

Literature (biological)

Cogger 1986, Mirtschin et al. 1990, O'Shea 1990, 2005, Skinner 2009, Sutherland 1983

The Reptile Database

Australian Reptile Online Database