THE REPTILES OF AUSTRALIA - ELAPIDS

AUSTRALIAN REPTILE PHOTOS AND INFORMATION
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RED-BELLIED BLACK SNAKE
or
Common Black Snake
(Pseudechis porphyriacus)

Highly Venomous - Extremely Dangerous
Usually grows to approximately 1.5 metres (5ft)

red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus
This photo of a Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) was taken at Perling Brook (or Perlingbrook) falls Southeast Qld


Red-bellied Black Snake - Pseudechis porphyriacus - Reptiles of Australia - Map  
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!
Picture below taken many years later!|
Photo of Neville Burns hand missing the bitten finger taken in 2017
Photo of Neville Burns hand missing the bitten finger - taken in 2017

Red-bellied Black Snake - Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) showing its red belly, however occasionally there is no red colouration on the belly.

red-bellied black snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus)
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.

Red-bellied black snake
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 antivenine injected into a drip, 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 first aid and treatment for this species and other dangerous snakes increases 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 medical procedures.

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.

 

The Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) may be confused with the Blue-bellied Black Snake which is a naturally occurring colour phase of the Spotted Black Snake (Pseudechis guttatus) as well as the Eastern Small-eyed Snake (Cryptophis nigrescens) which often has a pink or reddish belly pattern.

 

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About John Fowler | About John Hollister | Report Faulty Link | Report an Error

Contact John Fowler Author of the Australian Herpetology Website, Pythons of the World, BoaSnakes.info, PetGecko.info and Holiday in Kos - Owner of the Adelaide Reptile Forum

Contact John Hollister Author of John Hollister Reptile Collection - Herping the Trans-Pecos & Sweetwater, Texas Rattlesnake Roundup

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Updated September 15, 2021



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