EASTERN TIGER SNAKE (Notechis scutatus)
Most of the venomous snake call outs I receive in Melbourne are where someone has spotted a tiger snake in their home or backyard. This snake (depending on which scientific journal you read) is the 5th most venomous snake on land in the entire world. They are extremely common in Victorian back yards so it would be good to learn a bit more about them.
My pet eastern tiger snake named "Parsley"
No two eastern tiger snakes look exactly alike. There are significant variations of colour from brown, black, grey, yellow with alternating shades of dark and light bands across the snake. Bandings however are not always visible.
Across Melbourne, I have found more yellowish bellies occur in snakes from Kinglake and snakes appear to be more grey and brown colour from East Melbourne suburban areas however this is only an observation.
Tiger snakes can have shorter and broader heads compared to brown snakes and are typically found at 1 – 1.5 metres long in Melbourne however I have caught tiger snakes over 2 metres long.
My pet black tiger snake named "Nacho". Notice how this snake has minimal banding.
Eastern tiger snake venom is extremely dangerous. It contains POWERFUL:
Neurotoxins (affect the brain and nervous system)
Blood coagulants (cause the blood to clot excessively)
Haemolysins (destroy the cell membrane of red blood cells)
Myotoxins (cause severe muscle necrosis and paralysis including (diaphragmatic paralysis)
These different toxins act simultaneously on the body and symptoms of a tiger snake bite include:
Foot and neck localised pain.
Rapid onset of breathing difficulties
This leads to paralysis
Captured tiger snake with different colouration in Eltham
FOOD AND REPRODUCTION
Eastern tiger snakes love to eat frogs. I have even caught one that died trying to eat a frog that was much too big for its mouth. If frogs are unavailable, tiger snakes will happily consume small lizards, birds and mammals such as rodents.
Female Tiger Snakes are viviparous. They do not lay eggs but instead give birth to live young of around 30 baby tiger snakes.
DISTRIBUTION AND HABITAT
As a snake catcher, I see tiger snakes in every suburb of Melbourne I have caught snakes. They are widespread in Victoria however appear to be absent from the semi arid areas of the north-west part of the state.
Tiger snakes are common around swamps, wetlands, water courses, ponds, rivers and damns. Where food is plentiful, it is not uncommon to see large numbers of eastern tiger snakes in a small area.
For some reason, I seem to find eastern tiger snakes in people’s homes more than any other type of snake. This is especially noticeable in Diamond Creek.
Distribution of tiger snakes across Australia.
Eastern tiger snakes are in the top 5 most deadly snakes of the world. They are very active during the day however can be found hunting and night time. When threatened, the tiger snake will flatten its neck and raise its head similar to a cobra. This is a defensive posture but the tiger snake will bite if harmed, touched or you feel threatened.
When looking for a tiger snake, don’t always look at the ground. Tiger snakes habitually raid bird nests and can be found climbing tree branches at incredible heights. It is not uncommon for me to find a tiger snake on a house roof or hanging from a fence.
Eastern tiger snake release into wetlands
Eastern Tiger Snakes are not to be taken lightly. They're extremely deadly, can grow very large and can climb almost anything and anywhere in search of food. They are the most common snake that I find in people's houses.
If you come across one of these snakes, call a registered snake catcher and snake handler at: Snake Hunter on 0403 875 409