Welcome to the News section of the iNSiGHT Ornithology website (
www.simoncherriman.com). This blog contains updates about various things I've been up to, interesting environmental issues and observations I make regularly while going about my day. It is designed to be fun AND educational, and inspire you about our wonderful natural world. Happy reading!

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Harmless Snake

If you are walking in the bush and happen to turn over a rock like this, and notice a snake curled up under it, the first thing you should think is that there is a strong possibility that THE SNAKE WON’T KILL YOU!! I talk to many people about wildlife and snakes are very often a taboo subject. “The only good snake is a dead snake” is unfortunately a common saying. People see a snake and immediately assume it must be poisonous. This is a bit like thinking that every new person you meet is a serial killer! In the Perth region we have a huge variety of snakes (about 17 species) and only a couple are dangerously venomous.

This afternoon I took a break from the office and went for a short walk in some local bush in the Perth Hills. When I turned over the rock in the above photograph, I was really pleased to find this snake:

This beautiful animal is a Gould’s Hooded Snake (Parasuta gouldii), one of our local species that is often found under small rocks on granite outcrops. It is a member of the venomous land-snake family, and therefore does have forward-facing fangs that carry venom. HOWEVER, the strength of the venom is relatively mild, a bite being described as less intense than that of a bee-sting. And this is only if you get bitten! In my experience most individuals of this species are quite placid and will not try and bite unless handled roughly.

Gould’s Hooded Snakes are nocturnal and feed mostly on skinks and geckoes. An interesting part of their biology is they do not lay eggs but give birth to live young. This is a strategy often used  by reptile species living in cold climates, where the environmental temperatures are not warm enough to incubate eggs.

Sometimes Gould’s Hooded Snakes are confused with juvenile Dugites (Pseudonaja affinis), which
ARE a dangerously venomous species. This is where it is important to learn how to recognise different snakes. Both have a black head, but the key feature to look out for is the paler mark in front of the eye, quite obvious, and present only on the harmless species. The ground colour of this snake is also much more redder or orange, whereas the Dugite is greyer or greyish-green. And once you’ve seen a few, you’ll notice they have a very different general ‘look’ about them which tell’s you they are a friendly local.

Next time you are out walking in the Hills, see if you can find a beautiful snake near your place. And remember, treat every snake (and every animal for that matter) as an opportunity to learn something new about the wonderful natural world.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Simon, yes I know some people will kill these when they find them, Seems to be the uneducated about nature that think every snake is a serial Killer. Keep up the Great work, Carl Danzi