Eastern Brown Snake (and tiger moth)

We have two large elapid (venemous) snakes in this forest- the Alpine Copperhead (Australaps superbus) and the Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis).

Both are highly venomous, but the Eastern Brown is by far the most aggressive and dangerous. Fortunately, they don’t come looking for trouble, but neither is very welcome on the doorstep.

Eastern Brown SnakeThis sub-adult, Eastern Brown had made its home a little too close to the house, so during the cool of the morning, while it was sunning itself and before the snake had warmed up, I managed to catch it and release it on a track some distance away.

Translocating an animal (snake, possum, bird) to an area its not familiar with is life-threatening for that animal. Snakes can survive for relatively long periods without food, but finding a place of refuge is critical; this one is still of a size that would make it a tasty meal for a bird of prey. I released this animal where there is plenty of fallen timber and bracken and not far from a wetland full of frogs (yum).

I can’t help just one more pic of a Crimson Tiger Moth – they seem to be one of the few moths regularly active this early in the season, on relatively cool nights – and so easily noticed! I’ve definitely fallen for these beautiful creatures, in all their minute, scaled detail. The precision of their antennae, even at this coarse scale, is something to behold. Yet we see only a fraction of the microscopic detail that allows these male moths to detect pheromone-emitting females at great distances. The females have a distinctly different wing pattern, but where are they? Evolutionarily speaking, there’s probably some advantage for a few males to emerge early in the season just in case some females also comes out early, whereas females would benefit more by emerging a little later, when there are guaranteed to be more males around to attract. In this way, these moths can ‘map’ any seasonal temperature changes that may be occurring. If climate is warming (eg night-time temperatures), then, over time, we’d expect to see more of these moths out earlier in the season.

I’m on the lookout for the first female Crimson Tiger Moth of 2010.

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4 Responses to Eastern Brown Snake (and tiger moth)

  1. James Booth says:

    G’day Bertram,
    I’m enjoying this blog.
    I don’t think it is fair to say that Brown Snakes are aggressive just more inclined to bite if you provoke them. I’d call that being defensive.

  2. Thanks James. whilst I can’t disagree with your description of brown snake behaviour, I still reckon they ascribe to the notion that ‘the best form of defense is offense’. Regardless, they command respect.

  3. sheree says:

    an eastern brown was found n caught from my backyard by my next door neighbours cat yesterday, i live in a suburban street wat is the likeliness of there being more ( wheres theres 1 theres a whole family concept) …….. does any1 know as i have 5 little kids who love their backyard n im a very concerned mother

  4. Hi Sheree,
    Are you certain the snake caught by your cat was and Eastern Brown Snake? If it was, it must have been a small animal, for the cat to subdue it. Either way, its best to consider all snakes as venomous. Sorry I can’t advise you on the risks posed to your family, as I don’t know where you live, or your circumstances. However, as you say, if there’s been one snake, there may be more. Best to get some local advice, perhaps from your local Council, or State Government environment or agriculture department.

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