AUSTRALIAN REPTILE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION
Covering Australian Snakes and Lizards, Crocodiles and Turtles
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RED-BELLIED BLACK SNAKE
Common Black Snake
Highly Venomous - Extremely Dangerous
This photo of a Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus was taken at Perling Brook (or Perlingbrook) falls Southeast Qld
Approximate distribution of the Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus
This young Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus was photographed at Stipiturus, South Australia.
Notice how it is flattening it neck.
I took this photo of Neville Burns finger after he had been bitten by a Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus, unfortunately this bite was more serious than most black snake bites and the finger got worse and had to be amputated!
Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus showing its red belly
Red-bellied Black Snake Pseudechis porphyriacus
This species is usually found near water and sometimes dives under the water to get away, where it may stay submerged for quite a while.
Frogs form a large part of this species diet.
The sign above was at Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve in the Canberra (ACT) Region - it is a bit distorted but is shows typical belly coloration. In many areas it is not unusual to see some brown on the nose of this species but this individual from an unknown locality has a lot of brown on its head.
I have been bitten twice by this species, both times when catching snakes in the wild, the first bite was from an adult snake and in those days the standard treatment was to apply a tourniquet. The main symptom was discomfort from having the tourniquet on for too long. When I got to hospital I was given Black snake antivenene, that was quite uncomfortable to receive - at the time I felt it would have been better to have administered it a bit slower. I stayed in hospital overnight and was released the next day with a very large blood blister at the bite site on my finger.
The second bite was from a juvenile black snake and this bite was much more unpleasant, I could feel that I was envenomated soon after I was bitten and it didn't take long before I was feeling extremely nauseous (no first aid was applied), I remember thinking at the time that this was the worst I had ever felt in my life. I was soon throwing up regularly and this turned into dry retching after a while. I did not go to hospital but decided to sit this bite out at home in bed. I was
dry retching on and off for about 3 hours before I started feeling better. The only after effects were not noticed until a few weeks later when I realised that my sense of smell had been damaged, and some things I could not smell or they didn't smell as they should. I think that over many years my sense of smell seems to have improved a bit, but I don't think it has totally recovered.
Venomous snakes do not always inject venom when biting, however due to the high toxicity of the venom of this species, it is vital that first aid is performed immediately (Constrictive bandage etc) and the patient is taken immediately to hospital. Lack of symptoms may not mean that the victim has not been envenomated.
Correct and immediate treatment for this species and other dangerous snakes increase the chance of survival.
Although people are commonly bitten by dangerous snakes in Australia, the actual number of deaths is actually very low, due to antivenines and
Black snake bites can be extremely unpleasant sometimes, and although the venom is less toxic than many other dangerous Australian snakes, bites should definitely be treated as life threatening with the same urgency as other dangerous snakes.
Tiger snake antivenine is now often used to treat Black snake bites.
Updated March 15, 2019