Red-bellied Black snake

Snakes of South East Queensland

Red-bellied Black Snake

Pseudechis porphyriacus
Other common names: Red belly black
Red-bellied Black snake

Species Profile

Significance to Humans: Highly Venomous
The Red-bellied Black Snake has a reclusive disposition but will inflate and flatten the body and neck in an effort to intimidate a perceived aggressor. Bites from the Red-bellied Black Snake should be treated immediately and attended to with correct first aid. The Red-bellied Black Snake supposed fearsome reputation is well exaggerated. It is firstly a reluctant biter but will enact a defensive display and bite if antagonized or intimidated.

General description:

Uniform glossy black above along whole body except tip of snout which is paler brown. Belly has red or pink flush, brighter on the sides & paler in the middle. Hind edge of belly-scales is black, creating an even red & black striped appearance. Belly colour is visible along flanks and sides distinguishing it from the Eastern Small-eyed Snake. Midbody scales at 17 rows.

Average Length:

1.5 metres but larger specimens have been recorded in the Greater Brisbane, Ipswich and Gold Coast areas. the largest recorded specimen captured by a member of our team measured 2.04 metres in length.

Habitat in SE Qld:

Wet habitats; rainforest, near water. Preferably grassy or rocky edges of watercourses, swamps, lagoons etc. Also seasonally inundated alluvial woodlands.

General habits:

Diurnal. A diurnal species that actively searches for potential prey. The Red-bellied Black Snake tends to bask early morning raising its body temperature to ensure optimal temperature once it begins foraging.


This species feeds primarily on frogs, but also other reptiles (including other snakes) and small mammals are taken regularly. This species was initially a large casualty of the introduced Cane Toad. However it appears to have excluded these from its diet in response to the toxins present in the toads.

Local distribution:

Reported to have suffered declines in numbers in some areas subjected to significant favored habitat destruction. Readily turned up in inner suburbs with recent records by snake handlers from Milton, St Lucia and Moorooka but generally associated with suburbs supporting riparian habitats. One specimen captured inside the Brisbane Convention Centre and another in Charlotte street recently.

Around the home:

Could be typically associated with ground refugia such as timber piles, sheet iron, rock walls and heavy vegetation. Has been recorded climbing to take frogs from eves of homes but this is rarely encountered. A large freshly sloughed Red-bellied Black Snake is truly a beautiful snake often even appreciated by self confessed snake despisers.

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