Name: Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis)
Conservation Status: Least Concern (IUCN 3.1)
Classification and Taxonomy:
Distribution: The eastern brown snake is found along the east coast of Australia, from Malanda in far north Queensland, along the coasts and inland ranges of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and to the Yorke Peninsula in South Australia. Disjunct populations occur on the Barkly Tableland and the MacDonnell Ranges in the Northern Territory, and the far east of the Kimberley in Western Australia, and discontinuously in parts of New Guinea, specifically northern Milne Bay Province and Central Province in Papua New Guinea, and the Merauke region of Papua Province, in the Indonesian part of New Guinea. It is common in southeastern Queensland between Ipswich and Beenleigh.
Habitat: The eastern brown snake occupies a varied range of habitats from dry sclerophyll forests (eucalypt forests) and heaths of coastal ranges, through to savannah woodlands, inner grasslands, and arid scrublands and farmland, as well as drier areas that are intermittently flooded. It is more common in open habitat and also farmland and the outskirts of urban areas. It is not found in rainforests or other wet areas. Because of their mainly rodent diet, they can often be found near houses and farms. Such areas also provide shelter in the form of rubbish and other cover; the snakes use sheets of corrugated iron or buildings as hiding spots, as well as large rocks, burrows, and cracks in the ground.
Behavior: Eastern brown snakes are very fast moving snakes, Australian naturalist David Fleay reported it could outpace a person running at full speed. Many people mistake defensive displays for aggression. When confronted, the eastern brown snake reacts with one of two neck displays. During a partial display, the snake raises the front part of its body horizontally just off the ground, flattening its neck and sometimes opening its mouth. In a full display, the snake rises up vertically high off the ground, coiling its neck into an S shape, and opening its mouth. The snake is able to strike more accurately from a full display and more likely to deliver an envenomed bite. Due to the snake's height off the ground in full display, the resulting bites are often on the victim's upper thigh.
Reproduction: Eastern brown snakes generally mate from early October onwards—during the Southern Hemisphere spring; they are oviparous. Males engage in ritual combat with other males for access to females. The appearance of two males wrestling has been likened to a pleated rope. The most dominant male will mate with females in the area. The females produce a clutch of 10 to 35 eggs, with the eggs typically weighing 8.0 g (0.28 oz) each. The eggs are laid in a sheltered spot, such as a burrow or hollow inside a tree stump or rotting log. Multiple females may even use the same location, such as a rabbit warren. Ambient temperature influences the rate at which eggs develop; eggs incubated at 25 °C (77 °F) hatch after 95 days, while those at 30 °C (86 °F) hatch after 36 days. Eastern brown snakes can reach sexual maturity by 31 months of age, and have been reported to live up to 15 years in captivity.
Diet: The eastern brown snake's diet is made up almost wholly of vertebrates, with mammals predominating—particularly the introduced house mouse. Mammals as large as feral rabbits have been eaten. Small birds, eggs, and even other snakes are also consumed. Snakes in areas of natural vegetation or paddocks for stock eat a higher proportion of reptiles, while those in crop fields eat more mice. Small lizards such as skinks are more commonly eaten than frogs, as eastern brown snakes generally forage in areas over 100 m (350 ft) distant from water.
Venom: Clinically, the venom of the eastern brown snake causes venom-induced consumption coagulopathy; a third of cases develop serious systemic envenoming including hypotension and collapse, thrombotic microangiopathy, severe haemorrhage, and cardiac arrest. Other common systemic symptoms include nausea and vomiting, diaphoresis (sweating), and abdominal pain. Acute kidney injury and seizures can also occur. Onset of symptoms can be rapid, with a headache developing in 15 minutes and clotting abnormalities within 30 minutes; collapse has been recorded as occurring as little as two minutes after being bitten. Death is due to cardiovascular causes such as cardiac arrest or intracranial haemorrhage. Often, little local reaction occurs at the site of the bite. The classical appearance is of two fangmarks around 1 cm apart. Neurotoxicity is rare and generally mild, and myotoxicity (rhabdomyolysis) has not been reported.
Dymadex's blogs on reptiles and amphibians. Reptiles are tetrapod animals characterized by scaly skin. Amphibians are ectothermic, tetrapod vertebrates characterized by smooth skin.
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