Help from Snake Experts Please

Submitted: Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 22:09
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Hi All

Back from a great Simpson and Birdsville Track Trip. As we all know there is a real rodent problem in the outback and along with the rodents, there are great numbers of their predators....snakes.

In all our Simpson trips as well as countless Birdsville Track visits, we have never seen as many snakes for this time of the year. This snakes below was found around 2 hours south of Birdsville and as it was only 18 degrees around 11am, it was a little cool for it to be more active.

When we approached the snake at around 85 kpm, I at first thought that it was a large piece of timber on the road, but as we approached, it raised the front of its body around 8" off of the ground in a striking position.

Not wanting to kill the snake, after all we were in its territory, I quickly stopped the car and got out at a very safe distance a took a good number of images. The snake was well over 2 metres in length, around 50mm in body diameter, its head was about the size of a normal brown snake, but the colouring was very unusual.

The body colouring was a very pale brown/light golden colour with distinctive black bandings. As I approached, it flattened out its head, then continued to check out the numerous rat holes looking for a feed.

I have checked out Google, but not able to find a snake like this.

Are you able to help identify it please.

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Stephen
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Reply By: Bazooka - Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:14

Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:14
Gwarder?
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Follow Up By: Member Al (Sunshine Coast) - Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:30

Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:30
Yes, could be a Gwarder.

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Allan

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:49

Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:49
Hi Bazooka and Allan

The snake in the image from Allan's link has black spots, rather than the distinct banding and also the details for the Gwarder said that its average length was 1 metre. The one that we saw was very fat and over 2 metres long.

It could be that snake but the details that I have shown are not the same.


Thanks for the replies.



Cheers



Stephen
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:24

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:24
yep definitly a gwarder I say 80% the other 20% is some other kind of brown either way doesnt make much difference

No steve gwarders arntonly 1m

I do doubt your 2m as non snake people always add a fair % generally they are around 1.2-1.5 m even most pythons mine included dont top 2m or so however that one does have sighns of being a fullsied very healthy specimen

they are assivly variable and that banding is a typical morph although ive only seen pcs as here in WA typically they have a black head

well done for respecting it they are not aggresive and if given space and respect can be photographed quite safely

only thing to keep in mind is while you thing its best way to escape is away from you they often need to get past you to get to the covr they wont
this is where they great aussie myth of being chased by a snake comes from
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Follow Up By: Bazooka - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:05

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:05
Stephen
I'm not sure if it is a Gwarder but they certainly can grow longer than 1.5m. One I encountered in the gulf country (mid-brown colour) was around the 2m mark and much fatter than the one in your pic. A very healthy specimen. Two others which found their way into our camp were closer to the figs you mention.
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:39

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:39
to put it intom perspective many people would say this full grown SW carpet python was "at least 2m" but fact is its barley more than 1.5
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 08:58

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 08:58
Hi Get out more

I have to admit that I was wrong in the size of the snake. When we were there and saw the monster in person it looked very big, but when I have just put a tape measure on the ground, it would have been around the 1.6 metres in length, so sorry about that.

I was using a 250mm telephoto lens and I kept well away from the snake. When I walked some distance in front of the snake, you can see that it did flatten out its head a little, and then just went on its way of putting its head in the holes and flicking its tongue trying to find a rat for its meal.


Thanks for your reply


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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 16:00

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 16:00
Nice photo Davoe, where was that taken?

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 16:53

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 16:53
fitzgerald river nat park near hamersly inlet
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Reply By: Member - Stuart P (WA) - Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:20

Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:20
you may have photos of the inland taipan that was recently found near tjurlika road house but its territory is as yet fully understood (excuse spelling)
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:51

Saturday, Aug 13, 2011 at 23:51
Hi Stuart

Thanks for that. If all else fails, I will contact the museum and see what they say.


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'

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:26

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:26
nothing like a taipan sorry
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Reply By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:32

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:32
should add while it is a bit cool for snakes just because it was 18 means nothing, thy get out of the wind andwith some direct sunlight easily achieve quite warm temps to allow activity
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Follow Up By: Member - Stuart P (WA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 18:40

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 18:40
get outmore thats too light for a mulga snake
i cant immedeately identify it but a new species of taipan was discovered in that area and is at the south austalian museum . the elapid head is not too dissimilar to the taipain i dealt with at healesville sanctuary
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Reply By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:39

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 00:39
hmmmmm

cant believe it - the colour threw me off but there is a bit of a possability it is a mulga

the head well off the ground for a threat display and the flattening of the body as well as you emphasie the thickness and length

did it flatten its neck while the head was raised off the ground and sort of have the flattened neck ponted towards you rather than directly face you?
that is typical mulga defens posture (it wasnt posed to strike it was displaying a defense posture like all snakes will)
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:06

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:06
Hi get out more

Yes the raise front part of its body looked like the pictures when you see a cobra ready to strike. I at first thought it might have been a king brown or mulga, but the colouring did not fit the images on the internet.

What ever it was, it is still out there looking for another meal. The other thing like I have mentioned was how fat it was. I have seen lots of big brown snakes over the years and they are always a slender snake compared to this very big fellow.


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Follow Up By: Madfisher - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 15:14

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 15:14
Most likely put on condition due to all the rats and mice.
My thoughts are western Brown as it looks a bit like a black snake(same family) and the threat display also pionts to this.
Cheers Pete
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 17:11

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 17:11
damn im confused - colouring is definitly possible for a gwarder morph
mulgas dont have stripes or colourings

however a gwarder will poise in a low s when defensive where as a mulga will rasie its head much higher (gives you the heebie jeebies when trying to bag something with its head above the bag)

most snakes can flatten themselves but this is very much a Mulga trait and they do a kind of cobra impersanation

Im still thinking gwarder due to the banding

on cool days snakes often get more defensive as they lack the body heat to make a quick escape

this is a mulga



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Reply By: The Explorer - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:39

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 01:39
Hello

My guess is a Strap-snouted Brown Snake (Pseudonaja aspidorhyncha). My call is based on the snakes snout having a "chisel-shaped appearance due in part to the enlarged strap-like rostral scale" (Wilson and Swan 2010 - page 500) (i.e the scale at the tip of the nose). This large rostral scale seems to be evident in your second picture, plus snout has a square appearance whereas the Gwardar (my second call, same genus - different species) is more rounded and has a smaller rostral scale.

Body patterning with reptiles can have many variations within the same species so caution must be exercised if identifiy by this characteristic alone. The patterning in your photos is however consistent with variations found within the Strap-snouted Brown Snake population (picture on page 501 of Wilson and Swan 2010 shows a close similarity).

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Greg
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:09

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:09
Hi Greg

Thanks for that.



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Reply By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 03:15

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 03:15
No photos in this link but the description seems to fit the snake.

Museum Link



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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 08:55

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 08:55
thanks for that. I didnt rrealise efforts had ben made to differentuate sub species within the gwarder family although I do wonder sometimes if its acedemics trying to make a name for themselves. for what is essentially the same species with locality specific variations
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Reply By: Wilko (Parkes NSW) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 06:50

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 06:50
Hi Steve,

Its a black banded pale snake, I havent seen one for a long time.

Cheers Wilko ; )
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:09

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:09
Hi Wilko


Thanks for your reply. What ever it was, I would not want it coming into camp.



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Follow Up By: Member - The Bushwhackers -NSW - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:15

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:15
Wilko, some times I think you're a funny b@#$%rd ... no, correct that, I KNOW you are!!

Cheers, Dave

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Reply By: Member Al (Sunshine Coast) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:23

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:23
Stephen and others, I am astonished at the level of snake knowledge among our forum contributors. There is so much expertise on ExplorOz.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:50

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 09:50
Hi Allan

That was the reason why I posted the images, as I knew that there would be someone who would know what it was and the forum has many valuable members that contribute a lot when questions are asked.


Thanks for your replies.


Regards


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Follow Up By: Member - John (Vic) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 13:11

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 13:11
Whats also clear is how hard it can be to actually get the identification correct.
I am amazed at how many different snakes there are in this country and you cant assume anything as a casual observer.

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Reply By: Member - Heather MG NSW - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 10:45

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 10:45
Hi Stephen,

I took this photo recently when we were driving from Bedourie to Windorah and while unfortunately it isn't too well focussed when you zoom in for information, it may give you a starting point to 'google' some of the snakes mentioned.
I would think the Birdsville area would have similar reptiles to the Channel Country in Queensland


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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 11:20

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 11:20
Hi Heather


Thanks for that, good starting point.



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Reply By: Lotzi (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 15:42

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 15:42
.
western brown



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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 19:33

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 19:33
Hi Lotzi

I have just received an email from a snake expert in Queensland and he said that it is a Western Brown also. He now wants some hi resolution image to post of their website.


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Follow Up By: OutBack Wanderers - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 19:57

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 19:57
Gidday Stephen
If you like the Australian Reptile Park at Gosford, NSW might be able to help

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 20:02

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 20:02
Hi Outback Wanderers

This was the reply that I received from Wildlife Queensland:


It’s a Western Brown snake. This morph is usually typified by a more consistent block in the banding but the washed out bands and the very pale color makes for a really spekky snake.


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Follow Up By: Lotzi (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:19

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:19
Hi Stephen

Your second photo is a good shot, it shows that the browns are related to the cobra family with the flattened neck, he was getting a bit peed of with you so close, you will find them all up through there.

Usually found near water holes, tend to disappear down the wide cracks in the ground.

Cheers

Ray

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Follow Up By: get outmore - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:27

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:27
browns arnt related to cobras and most snakes will flatten themselves when threatened as it makes them seem bigger

tiger snakes and mulgas are some of the more pronounced "neck flatteners" you will find here

I actually havnt really seen it in browns in a pronounced way

not saying they dont just saying I havnt seen it
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Follow Up By: Lotzi (QLD) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:41

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 21:41
suggest you do some research

night
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Follow Up By: Tim - Stratford (VIC) - Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 23:19

Sunday, Aug 14, 2011 at 23:19
Quote from Encyclopeadia Britanica.....

"brown snake, any of several species of snakes named for their usual predominating colour. In New Guinea and Australia the name brown snake is applied to seven species of the genus Pseudonaja. These venomous snakes are slender, small-headed members of the cobra family, Elapidae. "

I learnt something today! :-)
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 07:43

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 07:43
well that depends on your definition of related

thats like saying a wombat and a kangaroo are related because there both marsupials

to put the initial coment into perspctive

a blue togue also flattens itself out when threatened

and being a reptile its also related to a cobra
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Follow Up By: Smudger - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 09:54

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 09:54
Steve,
Seems after all that, the first response posted was probably correct ..Gwadar, alternatively named the Western Brown. Close relative of the Eastern Brown & Dugite (WA)
As for the Cobra pose, I've been threatened with the same pose from both a Tiger and an Eastern Brown. I don't speak snake, I just took it as a serious attempt at scaring me off ..and it worked.

Check out this site
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 20:41

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 20:41
Hi Smudger

Thanks for that and that is what it was, a Western Brown.



Thanks for the reply



Cheers



Stephen
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Reply By: muffin man - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 21:04

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 21:04
We too also spotted several of these on the Birdsville Track this week. As you pulled up they would stick their head up like they were ready to attack.
MM
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Follow Up By: get outmore - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 23:26

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 23:26
sorry to coorect but thats a defensive pose
- not an atack pose

typical Brown snake defensive pose (dugite in this case native to SW western australia and very closely related to the gwarder)


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Reply By: The Explorer - Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 21:09

Monday, Aug 15, 2011 at 21:09
Hi

Interesting "tool" for identifying snakes on scale type and counts

Snake Scale Count Search

May not work in some closely related species but will head you in the right direction.

Please read "Note" near top of webpage.

Cheers
Greg
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