Eastern Small Eyed Snake
Eastern Small Eyed Snakes are very cute, small-ish and are rarely seen in Melbourne. That said, I have caught several inside people's backyards, inside buildings and schools but mostly inside the home.
The Eastern Small Eyed Snake, like all snakes endemic to Melbourne, are venomous and should not be approached.
As the name suggests, Eastern Small Eyed Snakes have a very small eye. They have a robust body for their size with a distinct head as seen in the photos. They are a glossy/shiny blue-black colour with the ventral scales (belly) being anything from a cream, to a dark pink colour with darker patches.
Small Eyed Snakes are often mistaken for red bellied black snakes particular larger variants of the Small Eyed Snakes that can grow up to 2 metres long however are typically around 0.5 metres long.
Eastern Small Eyed Snakes are nocturnal and shy. During the day they are found under rocks, leaf litter, garden foliage and branches.
They are a secretive snake that when encountered are said to thrash about however I have never witnessed this. Eastern Small Eyed Snakes are active foragers at night time searching for diurnal lizards in their sleeping places. They also can be considered an ambush predator.
Eastern Small Eyed Snake venom seems to vary geographically. The effect on humans can range from no symptoms to to renal failure and death with at least 1 recorded fatality. The venom of an Eastern Small Eyed Snake contains long acting myotoxins that affect muscle and continues to attack muscle including cardiac muscle for days after envenomation.
Bites from eastern small eyed snakes should always be considered as dangerous and urgent medical treatment will be required.
Distribution & Habitat
Eastern Small Eyed Snakes are very common along the eastern part of Australia from southern Victoria to far north Queensland however they are not easily found by people due to their secretive nature. This species may form winter aggregations, with up to 29 individuals being found sheltering together.
DIET & REPRODUCTION
Eastern Small Eyed Snakes eat mostly small lizards or other snakes and possibly frogs but there is no clear evidence of this. They can also eat lizard eggs, legless lizards, blind snakes, and dragons.
Females give birth to live young, usually about 4 per litter. Male combat has been observed at night in the first half of spring. Gravid females occur over a broad season, from early spring to early autumn. Female Eastern Small Eyed Snakes give birth in late summer to early autumn.
If you come across an Eastern Small Eyed Snake, call a registered snake catcher and snake handler at:
Snake Hunter on 0403 875 409