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The Western Brown snake, or Gwarder, is a very fast, highly venomous snake native to Australia. Its colour and pattern is rather variable, depending largely on its location[1]. It is most closely related to the Spotted Brown Snake, Speckled Brown Snake, Peninsula Brown Snake, Ingram's Brown Snake, Ringed Brown Snake and Eastern Brown Snake. Some experts assert that the Western Brown's wide variation in appearance and extensive distribution mean that Western Brown species in fact covers multiple related, but separate species[2].

Appearance Edit

The Western Brown snake grows up to 1.5m. Its back can feature shades of orange-brown with flecks and bands, or appear plain. Its belly is cream to orange with pink blotches. Some individuals have jet black heads (this can cause it to be confused with the Black Headed Python)[3], while others feature a black 'V' shape on the back of their neck, below their head. [4]

Habitat Edit

The Western Brown is a ground dwelling snake which is prefers drier habitats but is also found in coastal eucalypt forests, woodlands and grasslands[3]. Although the Western Brown is not an arboreal species, it is not uncommon for it to climb small shrubs or trees. It also hides in crevices and under rocks, and in urban areas can be found under rubbish or tin piles. The Western Brown has a wide distribution and is found across most of the Australian continent, including all of the Northern Territory, as well as most of Queensland, Western Australia, and some of Victoria.[5]

Diet Edit

Small mammals and reptiles, including lizards and mice.[3][6]

Lifespan and reproduction Edit

Little is known about the Western Brown's lifespan. Mating season is roughly from September to November and the female usually produces around 11-14 eggs[3], but may produce up to 38.[5]

Venom and Symptoms Edit

Although the Western Brown snake's venom is not the most toxic in the Brown snake genus, its average delivery contains a relatively high quantity of venom and thus the Western Brown snake has high potential to deliver a deadly bite[5]. Its venom contains neurotoxins, nephrotoxins and a procoagulant, although humans are not usually affected by the neurotoxins[1]. The bite is usually painless and difficult to see due to their small fangs. Human symptoms of a Western Brown snake bite are headache, nausea/vomiting, abdominal pain, severe coagulopathy and sometimes, kidney damage[5]. In dogs and cats, paralysis is also likely to occur.

Behaviour Edit

The Western Brown snake is known to be very aggressive when disturbed or threatened but like most snakes, will usually prefer to retreat from danger.[7] It may develop nocturnal habits during the warmer months but is otherwise active during the day and enjoys lots of sunlight.[3] The Western Brown snake has also been known to practise cannibalism, although this is not common[8]. Western Brown snakes kill their prey with a combination of venom and constriction.[4]

References Edit

  1. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named vensup
  2. Australian Nature Live. snake-thebrowns.pdf. Retrieved on 2009-03-24.
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named qldmus
  4. 4.0 4.1 James Cook University. Pseudonajanuchalis. Retrieved on 2009-03-25.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Pilbara Pythons. Western Brown. Retrieved on 2009-03-24.
  6. M. Swan, S. Watharow. Snakes Sample.pdf. Snakes, Lizards and Frogs of the Victorian Mallee (sample). Retrieved on 2009-03-25.
  7. G. Wallis. Don't chase Brown Snakes. Retrieved on 2010-09-09.
  8. Rebekah Cavanagh. Northern Territory News. Northern Territory News. Retrieved on 2009-03-24.

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