- Don’t panic!! When you see a snake remember it is likely it has seen you too. In the majority of cases snakes will retreat to nearby cover but on occasion will lay still in hope you will go away. A snake will not make a deliberate motion towards you unless provoked.
- Keep a sharp eye on the snake. If you feel you may want the snake identified or further assistance, call for someone to grab your digital camera or the telephone. Fast moving species such as Common Tree Snakes or Eastern Brown Snakes usually head for cover if you leave the area. For identification of snakes in our region go to our snake id web page. Snake Identification and Information.
- Keep pets and people well away from the snake. The more interaction the snake has the more intimidated it will become. 95% OF SNAKE BITES OCCUR WHEN PEOPLE TRY TO CATCH OR KILL SNAKES. Don’t knowingly place yourself or those around you into the highest risk category. No snake left alone is dangerous. Allow a specialist to solve the problem for you if you feel relocation is required.
- If the snake is inside your home/workplace it is paramount you keep a constant watch until your snake catcher arrives. Snake catchers are not magicians and snakes are exceptional at exiting an area undetected. A general search in most cases will not turn up your snake. If you cannot manage this then a damp towel jammed under the closed door will assist to keep the snake enclosed. Be sure to push the towel in with an implement to minimise the option of escape. Remember that snakes can hide in inaccessible places even in a single room and capture cannot be guaranteed if you don’t know where the snake is. Nothing replaces a constant watchful eye.
- Snakes outside are generally temporary visitors that will leave your premises if left alone. With a little patience from yourself you will find the snake will vacate of its own accord. Remember that your snake has probably lived its entire life in suburban backyards without incident so why should this change just because you have seen it.
- It makes sense to have the number of your local 24 hour licensed snake handler ready in case of a surprise snake encounter. Trying to find the number whilst endeavouring to keep watch on a snake is time consuming and delays any response to your situation. For a comprehensive suburb by suburb list of all snake catchers within Brisbane and other regions in Queensland go to the 24 Hour Snake Catchers Directory.
When is a brown snake not a brown snake?
When it’s a harmless keelback snake of course
As you can imagine, a brown coloured snake is often going to be labelled as an eastern brown snake…but as I say time and time again, not all brown coloured snakes are eastern browns, and not all eastern browns are brown in colour (see picture at bottom of page).
Keelback snakes aren’t an overly large species, generally around the 60-70cm mark, but specimens of a whopping 93cm have been recorded.
The keelback is a species that can be quite variable in colour across its range. Here, in South East Queensland, they’re a grey-brown colour with quite faint, irregular banding and many light flecks between the scales. Their belly is cream in colour.
One of the most distinctive features of the keelback snake are its strongly keeled scales. These keels create very obvious ridges that run down the length of the snakes body, I have included a close up shot of these ridges.
Looking more closely, some other features we may look for are the upturned mouth of the keelback which makes them look like they’re smiling, the dark bars between the scales on the upper lip, and one other very important feature that it shares with other colubrid snakes – a loreal scale. This is a scale between the nasal scale and preocular scale (the scale in front of the eye). Our highly venomous species which may be confused with the keelback belong to a different family of snakes (elapids), which do not possess this scale. I have included a close-up head shot where I have highlighted these features.
We would never expect anyone to get close enough to see such details, but if you were interested in knowing all the little things that help separate these species, this is what we look at.
Keelbacks primarily feed on frogs, but they may also feed on fish, reptile eggs, and mammals. They hunt both during the day and night, and interestingly, they able to successfully feed on the introduced cane toad without ill effect. Although, if their eyes are bigger than their stomach and they try to tackle a large toad, the toxins will affect them and it can be fatal for the snake.
So, how are keelbacks able to deal with these toxins? Their South-east Asian keelback cousins commonly feed on toads that possess poison secreting glands, and somewhere along their evolutionary line, our keelback snakes are likely to have encountered these due to their South-east Asian origin.
As you would imagine, you’re likely to find these snakes near a water source. Whether it be a creek line, wetlands, or a dam. They’re a great little snake to have around and the worst thing they can do to you is emit a very offensive smell from their anal glands in an attempt to deter any threats – now I’m not going to lie, it’s absolutely disgusting!
I’ve tried to focus on describing what defines this species rather than listing all the differences that separate it from the many species it can be confused with.
In any case, it is recommended that you treat every snake as potentially dangerous and seek identification/advice from a local snake catcher.
For snake advice and relocation in Brisbane, GC, Logan and Ipswich you can contact us 24/7 on 0413 028 081 or visit our Facebook page Snake Catchers Brisbane & Gold Coast