Australia has a reputation for interesting wildlife, with snakes being no exception to this. A wide range of different snake species can be found in Australia, but the following are breeds more likely to be seen in Perth and other surrounding areas of Western Australia.
While many people fear snakes, snakes are actually in greater danger from humans. Destruction of habitats and the introduction of feral animals threatens snake populations.
Please do not attempt to handle snakes you may encounter near your home or when out and about. While many snake species are not aggressive, some will bite if they sense a threat. All snake bites should receive immediate medical attention.
One of the most common dangerous snakes in the Perth area is the dugite, which usually avoid people but will bite if they are threatened or stepped on.
While many snakes are nocturnal, the dugite is diurnal and is very fast moving. It prefers sandy habitats, but can be found in a variety of environments, where it will hunt mice, lizards, birds and even other snakes.
Identifying the dugite by its color is difficult as it can vary widely–they are often colored grey, green or brown. The shape of their head is the most reliable way to identify them as it is very small compared to the rest of their body. They can grow to be two meters in length.
Their bite is potentially lethal and victims should seek immediate medical attention to treat any bites.
The carpet python is the most common snake in the Perth area. They range widely in color and in pattern, though many are olive green with pale patches, stripes and cross-bands that are usually dark-edged. There are deep pits lining their lower jaw.
Females found in the southern region of Western Australia can grow to be four times the size of males. These snakes have a preferred home range, and like other breeds of python, they strangle their prey to swallow whole instead of biting it.
They can be found in forests, rainforests, coastal and rural areas, and even home gardens. They are not venomous, but tetanus treatment is recommended after a bite.
Also known as the gwardar, the brown snake is a snake widespread over much of Australia, but is often found in Western Australia. The brown snakes native to Western Australia aren’t as aggressive as their eastern counterparts, but they are still very dangerous.
Brown snakes are fast-moving and have an anxious temperament. If disturbed, they will likely move quickly to hid but strike if cornered before once again trying to escape. One key difference between Eastern brown snakes and the gwardar is that the venom of the gwardar is far less potent. However, their bite issues three times as much venom. The bites are usually painless and can be very difficult to see because of their small fangs.
If bitten, victims may feel headache, nausea, abdominal pain and severe blood clotting disorder. Sometimes kidney damage can occur. Seek medical attention if bitten.
Tiger snakes are often found along the south-eastern coast of Australia, but are also often seen in Western Australia. They inhabit highly populated areas, including some metropolitan areas and are attracted to farms and other outer suburban areas where they can hunt mice and other rodents at night, when they are extremely difficult to see because of their dark coloring.
The tiger snake can grow to two meters in length and has ragged stripes that can be yellow to black, giving it its name.
These snakes are responsible for the second-highest number of bites in Australia and their bite is fatal if not given medical attention. The bit causes pain in the feet and neck, numbness, sweating, tingling sensations, which are all followed by breathing difficulties and paralysis. The venom can also cause renal failure.
King Brown Snake/Mulga
The king brown snake (or mulga) is the most widely distributed of any snake in Australia. It is found throughout the country and its temperament can vary by location. Though these are called king brown snakes, mulgas are actually related to the black snake family.
The mulga is the heaviest venomous snake in Australia. It also has the largest known venom output when it bites–one bite can deliver up to 150 mg of venom, while the average of the tiger snake is only 10-35 mg with each bite.
If spotted, this snake should not be disturbed–when agitated, they throw their heads from side to side, hissing loudly and their bite is particularly brutal. Mulgas will clamp onto their victim with their jaws when they bite, often chewing and injecting more and more venom. Their venom is highly toxic and can destroy blood cells, affecting both muscles and nerves. Because they are related to black snakes, black snake antivenom must be used to treat their bite.
The death adder is an ambush predator found in many parts of Australia, including Western Australia. It will sit without moving, hiding under leaves or other debris waiting for prey. It will move its tail, which has a lure at the end, in order to attract prey.
These snakes are much more dangerous to hikers in their habitats as they do not try to run if disturbed by humans. They will sit tightly at the risk of being stepped on. Because they are unlikely to bite unless touched, this is a particularly risky situation for humans.
An antivenom exists for death adder bites, which have a neurotoxin that causes loss of motor and sensory function, including breathing, and can result in paralysis and death.
The Western crowned snake is found almost exclusively in the southern portion of Western Australia. These snakes have a distinct blue-grey head that is circled by a band of darker scales. They are only mildly venomous.
Active both during the day and night, crowned snakes can often be seen sunbathing in flat areas. They can be approached, but may startle and try to get away. They are not aggressive and unlikely to bite, but their bite will still require first aid and possible medical attention.