Is It Dangerous?
The Eastern Brown Snake is the second most venomous land Snake on earth behind the Inland Taipan. Its venom contains neurotoxins and blood coagulants which, if left untreated, will ultimately kill. The venom causes paralysis in dogs and cats, and the most frequent cause of death for humans after being envenomated by a Brown Snake is stroke. The Eastern Brown is responsible for the most human deaths of any snake in Australia at 60%.
Where Would You Find It?
Brown Snakes are common throughout South East Queensland, and often find their way into backyards and houses. They are common in rural areas and urban areas alike. Where large areas of bushland have been repurposed for housing estates Brown Snakes often find themselves displaced. They prefer less dense bushland areas however are not picky.
How Do They Behave?
Brown Snakes are inquisitive, active, mostly ground dwelling snakes. Brown Snakes have a reputation for being extremely aggressive, however this reputation is largely undeserved. Browns will always try to escape a threat rather than confront it, and if they do need to confront it they would much rather put on a show and scare off a would be attacker than actually bite. Browns will rear up in an S-shape showing off their bright orange belly spots and hissing loudly. If they do bite, the majority of the time the first bite will NOT contain any venom, this is called a ‘dry bite’. If the threat persists they will envonomate it.
What Does It Eat?
Brown Snakes subsist on a diet of mainly rodents, with the introduced House Mouse the most common food source. The Brown Snake is remarkably fluid with its feeding habit; snakes in fields will survive more on mice and rats but snakes in bushland will survive more on other reptiles. Brown Snakes can also eat birds, other snakes and even rabbits if they are large enough!
How Big Do They Get?
Eastern Browns are a considerably large species of Australian Elapid, growing frequently to 1.5m long. The largest recorded size is 2.4m long. Snakes below half a metre are also encountered frequently.
How Common Are They?
Eastern Brown Snakes are the third most common Snake in South East Queensland however in some local areas they are the most commonly encountered snake. Brown Snakes are adept at living with and around humans, they seem to almost thrive on it.
What Are Its Similar Species?
Eastern Brown Snakes can be mistaken for Whip Snakes and even Tree Snakes. Juveniles can be mistaken for various snakes due to their highly variable colour and banding. Brown Snakes are also frequently mistaken for Tiger Snakes, there have even been instances of Young Brown Snakes being mistaken for legless Lizards!
Did You Know?
- In a field study that monitored 455 encounters with Brown Snakes, results showed Brown Snaked were more likely notice dark clothing and retreat more quickly.
- In the same study, the results showed that encountering male snakes on overcast or windy days heightened risk of a confrontation, likely due to the snakes detecting ability being inhibited.
- When hunting, the Brown Snake will raise its head off the ground to survey the land for prey.
- Young Brown Snake venom contains more neurotoxin and juveniles are more likely to severely envenomate!
- Vets promote an idea called the ‘Brown Snake paradox’ which basically describes how Brown Snake venom causes paralysis and other neurotoxic effects in dogs but rarely in humans.
- The Eastern Brown Snake has a familial subspecies in Western Australia named, you guessed it, the Western Brown Snake.
- The Eastern Brown Snake is considered a species of ‘high medical importance’ by the World Health Organization (WHO).
- Male Eastern Browns grow larger than females.
A Snake Catchers Story…
‘One of the first times I ever encountered a juvenile Eastern Brown, I had a crazy experience. The small Snake was resting in a bedroom, and was more than happy to enter a hoop bag and get away from all the scary people. I was shocked and still am at how inoffensive these Snakes look when they are small, and I wasn’t the only one! The lady who called me out remarked that she thought the Snake was harmless and she had two minds to pick it up and sell it on gumtree! I explained to her the laws surrounding that activity, oh, and that it was one of the deadliest snakes on earth!’