Basking in the autumn sun

Red-bellied black snake

This individual snake was basking in the sun during Easter, on the eastern side of the dam at the Edward Hunter Heritage Bush Reserve.

Red-bellied black snake, Edward Hunter Heritage Reserve, reptiles

Red- bellied black snake: round dark iris, black back scales, red side scales and pale undersides

The black top, with red side scales and cream underbody suggests red-belly and this is confirmed by the 17 rows of midbody scales. Its dark iris is round and its paler nose suggests juvenile. Adult red-bellied black snakes tend to have a brown tip to their snout.

Red-bellied black snake, Edward Hunter Heritage Reserve, reptiles

Red-bellied black snake, extra eyelid down. 17 midbody scales

Basking behaviour

The red-belly maintains a body temperature of between 28 to 31 °C by shifting backwards and forwards between the sun and the shade. They are most active in the spring during the mating season and their time in the open declines after that.

Moist habitat

Associated with moist habitats such as swamps, wet sclerophyll forest, and grasslands, the pseudechis porphyriacus is mainly a daylight hunter (diurnal), feeding on frogs, tadpoles, lizards, other snakes, and small mammals.

They give birth to live young and when they are young face predation by birds such as kookaburras, frogs, other snakes and even red-backed spiders. The young snakes have a full load of venom and whilst this snake is venomous, it is not regarded as aggressive, preferring to freeze or flee.

Red-bellied black snake distribution, Wikipedia Commons

Red-bellied black snake distribution, Wikipedia Commons

References and further information

Australia Venom Research Unit, University of Melbourne (2012) Red-Bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) http://www.avru.org/general/general_redbellied.html

Beatson, C.  Australian Museum (2013) Animal Species: Red-bellied Black Snake http://australianmuseum.net.au/Red-bellied-Black-Snake

Glover, R., ABC (24 June 2009) Self Improvement Wednesday – the life cycle of the Red Belly Black Snake http://www.abc.net.au/local/audio/2009/06/24/2607346.htm

Street, P. (21 January 2009) Mind your step – Red-bellied Black Snakes! Pete’s wildlife Blog http://peterstreet.com.au/blog/?p=47

Wilson, S. & Swan, G. (2008) A Complete Guide to Reptiles.  New Holland Publishers: Chatswood

2 responses to “Basking in the autumn sun

  1. Hi!

    Cool snake, however this is not a Red-bellied Black Snake, this is a Copperhead Snake! I’d love to see these one day.

    Apologies for the delay replying, my blog had been desperately in need of fixing after a hosting upgrade some time ago now..

    Here is my blog article you linked to for comparison
    http://peterstreet.com.au/blog/?p=47

    Best Regards,
    Pete

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