The Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus, is a species of elapid snake native to eastern Australia. Though its venom is capable of causing significant morbidity, it is not generally fatal and less venomous than other deadly Australian snakes. It is common in woodlands, forests and swamplands of eastern Australia. It is one of Australia's best-known snakes, as it is common in urban areas along the eastern coast of Australia. It has an average total length of 1.5 to 2 metres.[1]


The Red-bellied Black Snake is glossy black on the dorsal surface and red, crimson or pink in colour on the lower sides and belly. The snout is often a lighter brown colour. It is a relatively large species of snake reaching up to two metres in length, although an average sized specimen would be closer to 1.4 m. Like all Elapid snakes it is front fanged. It has 17 mid-body scale rows. Juveniles are similar to the Eastern Small-eyed Snake with which it can be easily confused.[2]

Distribution and habitatEdit

The Red-bellied Black Snake is native to the east coast of Australia. The Red-bellied Black Snake can be found in the urban forest, woodland, plains and bushland areas of Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Cairns and Adelaide. It is most commonly seen close to dams, streams, billabongs and other bodies of water.[3]

Behaviour Edit

Nature Edit

This is generally not an aggressive species. However, when provoked, it will recoil into its striking stance as a threat, but will try to escape at the first opportunity.[4] It is most active by day. When not hunting or basking it may be found beneath timber, rocks and rubbish or down holes and burrows.

Diet Edit

The Red-bellied Black Snake's diet consists primarily of frogs, but it also preys on reptiles and small mammals. They also eat other snakes, including those of their own species. The introduction of the toxic cane toad has caused populations of this snake to decline in many areas in the northern parts of its range as many snakes have been fatally poisoned while trying to eat the toad. However, there has recently been a large increase in population as the snake learns to leave cane toads alone and choose rodents over frogs.Template:Citation needed

Venom Edit

Red-bellied Black Snake venom consists of neurotoxins, myotoxins, coagulants and also has haemolytic properties. Bites from Red-bellied Black Snakes are rarely life-threatening due to the snake usually choosing to inject little venom toxin, but are still in need of immediate medical attention. Tiger Snake antivenom is used to treat bites.[5] While black snake antivenom can be used, tiger snake antivenom can be used at a lower dose. The smaller dose is cheaper to produce, and is less likely to cause a reaction in the patient.[6]

Reproduction Edit

Red-bellied Black Snakes are ovoviviparous; that is, they give birth to live young in individual membranous sacs.[7] The young, numbering between eight and 40, emerge from their sacs very shortly after birth, and have an average length of about 22 cm.[8] In the wild, few will survive to reproduce.


The species was first described by George Shaw in Zoology of New Holland (1794), placing it in the genus Coluber.[9] The accompanying illustration was attributed to James Sowerby, but is regarded as being produced from drawings by John White.[10]

Gallery Edit

References Edit

Footnotes Edit

  1. Template:Cite book
  2. Reptile Park. Red Bellied Black Snake. Retrieved on 2007-12-28.
  3. Template:Cite book
  4. Bain, Libby. The Australian Reptile Park and Wildlife Sanctuary. Red-bellied Black Snake - Pseudechis porphyriacus. Australian Reptile Park. Retrieved on 1 July 2011.
  5. CSL Antivenom Handbook. Retrieved on 2007-12-28.
  6. Peter Mirtschin. Relative Toxicity of Australian Snakes. Archived from the original on 2007-10-28. Retrieved on 2007-12-28.
  7. Template:Cite book
  8. Template:Cite book
  9. Template:NRDB species
  10. Picture Library State Library of Victoria
  11. Tab. X of: Zoology and botany of New Holland and the isles adjacent / the zoological part by George Shaw, the botanical part by James Edward Smith; the figures by James Sowerby

External linksEdit

Template:Wikispecies-inline Template:Commons-inlinede:Rotbäuchige Schwarzotter fr:Pseudechis porphyriacus nl:Zwarte adder simple:Red Bellied Black Snake

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