Red-bellied Black Snake


Pseudechis porphyriacus or Red-bellied Black Snake

The Red-bellied Black Snake is a diurnal (day time) predator. The average length for this snake is 1.5 metres, but they can reach a length of 2.7 metres. They enjoy living around watercourses and marshy grounds, as their favourite foods (frogs, eels and lizards) are usually found in these areas. The introduction of the Cane Toad almost wiped this species out. Fortunately there seemed to be a number of Red-bellied Black Snakes that chose not to eat toads. These animals seem to have passed this trait on to their offspring, resulting in Red-bellied Black Snake population numbers becoming more secure.

The Red-bellied Black Snake is a shy and docile snake. Red Bellies have been known to strike with their mouths closed to scare off unwanted attackers, which is contrary to their reputation as ferocious animals. The venom of the Red-bellied Black Snake is quite low in potency compared with most other venomous species. Its venom possesses procoagulant (blood-clotting) and myolytic (muscle-destroying) activity. It is not unusual for necrosis (tissue death) to occur at the bite site.

The Red Bellied Black Snake bears live babies, with litters of up to 20 not uncommon.

Did you know...

  • The average length for the red-bellied black snake is 1.5 metres, but they can reach a length of 2.7 metres.
  • The venom of the red-bellied black snake is quite low in potency compared with most other venomous species.
  • Red bellies have been known to strike with their mouths closed to scare off unwanted attackers, which is contrary to their reputation as ferocious animals.
  • The red-bellied black snake bears live babies.

Where Red-Bellies can be found in Australia:

The introduction of the cane toad almost wiped the Red-bellied Black Snake species out.

Black Snake Envenomation


The First Aid for black snake envenomation is pressure-immobilisation

Black Snake Envenomation: Signs and Symptoms

The venom of mulga snake is somewhat less toxic than that of many other Australian venomous snakes, among them the black snake. Mytoxicity is a major feature, and the venom also contains anticoagulants and possibly neurotoxins. Swelling and pain at the bite site may be seen, and are unusual in bites by other Australian snake genera.

Red-bellied black snake bite may cause coagulopathy, neurotoxicity, and myolysis. No human deaths have been confirmed, although animals have died after bites by this snake.

Bites from the blue-bellied black snake may cause severe local pain and regional lymphadenopathy.

Black Snake Envenomation: Treatment

First aid for black snake envenomation consists of a pressure bandage and immobilization. In cases where a pressure bandage has been applied correctly, it can be left in situ indefinitely while the patient is feeling no discomfort as a result. If it becomes appropriate to remove a pressure bandage, it is necessary to have antivenom and haemostatic support ready.


Black snake antivenom should be used for envenomation by the mulga snake and Collett's snake.

Tiger snake antivenom is just as effective in treating envenomation by the red-bellied black snake and blue-bellied black snake, and is preferable because of its lesser volume.

Black snake and tiger snake antivenom supplied by CSL Ltd are equine in origin.

Australian Venomous Snake


Snake Identification

Did you know that 20 of the 25 most venomous snakes in the world are found in Australia?

Australia is the only continent where venomous snakes (70%) outnumber non-venomous ones. Australia's deadliest snakes are the brown snakes (responsible for around 60% of deaths caused by snakebite) and the venomous land snake on Earth (tested on mice) is the Inland Taipan found in arid regions of central Australia.

Snake Identification 101

According to Tropical Topics newsletter produced by Stella Martin at the Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, there are six main snake families in Australia--elapids (venomous snakes, the largest group), colubrids ( mostly 'harmless' snakes) pythons, blindsnakes, file snakes and sea snakes.

Snake Identification: Serpent Classification

A major classification of Australian venomous snakes taken from the University of Sydney Discipline of Anaesthesia community articles include Brown Snake, (Eastern, Gwardir, Dugite), Taipan, Tiger Snake, Death Adder, Copperhead, King Brown Snake (Mulga snake), Redbellied Black Snake, Rough Scaled Snake, and Inland Taipan (Small Scaled snake).

Snake Identification: Snakes and Venoms

Snake identification or description is very crucial because not all snakes are venomous, and because different kinds of anti-venom exist for every specie of snake. For snake identification, doctors may use a Snake Venom Detection Kit (SVDK) to examine the traces of venom left in the bitten area.

It is estimated that between 50,000 and 60,000 people die of snake bite each year around the world. By comparison, in Australia, it is estimated snakebites incidence are between 3 and 18 per 100,000 with an average mortality rate of 4 per 100,000 every year.

Snake Identification: Death and Causes

Some deaths are sudden, however it is uncommon to die within four hours of a snake bite. If untreated, high levels of venom could cause death in a short time. Despite of this, very few deaths result from snake bites because of the availability and wide access to anti-venom in recent years.

Snake venoms are a complex mixture of polypeptide and other molecules that adversely affect multiple homeostatic systems within their prey in a highly specific and targeted manner. Amongst the most potently toxic venoms in the world are these major Australian venomous snakes, and so snake identification has become a crucial part of survival among the snake-bite victims.

Snake Identification: Impact on Culture

These hypercarnivore reptiles are celebrated for centuries in history and religion as a highly-symbolic animal. Modern studies have been made to understand there biology and behavior. Snakes are shy by nature and will only bite animals or humans if they feel threatened or looking for food. Subsequently, most snakebites occur when people try to catch or kill them.

Snake Identification