Is It Dangerous?

The Keelback Snake is a non-venomous species of Colubrid Snake which means they possess rear facing fangs. They can still bite however and bites will require sterilisation. They are a very inoffensive Snake unless provoked.

Where Would You Find It?

Keelbacks prefer environments close to water sources to hunt their favourite foods. These environments include swamps, wetlands, parks close to lakes and lagoons and any areas near flowing bodies of water. Keelbacks are a curious Snake and are frequently found in homes, in particular garages. They are also regularly seen in gardens; typically around shrubbery and rock walls.

How Do They Behave?

Keelbacks are curious Snakes which typically move around and explore for good portions of the day. They are one of the only Snakes in south east Queensland which are communal, meaning they are often found in large groups. Keelbacks will release a foul smelling odour from their cloaca when they are provoked which is designed to deter would be attackers. Keelbacks forage on or below ground level and are reluctant to climb. They are also very good swimmers and put on a real show at sundown as they dart through the water column in search of food or shelter.

What Does It Eat?

Keelbacks are a reptile hunting species meaning they primarily hunt frogs, lizards, other Snakes and tadpoles. One of very few Australian Snakes to be able to successfully eat Cane Toads, Keelbacks are an essential part of our environment. They will also eat mammals if on offer, aswell as fish.

How Big Do They Get?

Keelbacks are a medium sized Snake, growing to a maximum size of around 1m but much more commonly encountered at 40-70cm.

How Common Are They?

Keelbacks are a very common Snake to encounter if you are stationed nearby to a water source. They are more active around rain events as their food becomes more active around these times too. They are much more common to spot at your local lake or creek than on your property however.

What Are Its Similar Species?

Due to their small size and tricky patterns, Keelbacks can be mistaken for a variety of Snakes. They can look like a darkly coloured Tree Snake or a young Brown, Black or Tiger Snake. They do however most closely resemble the highly venomous ‘Rough Scaled Snake’, which can be distinguished only by the Keelbacks frequently noted pionkishg tinge and Loreal Scale.

Did You Know?

  • Keelbacks can eat the highly toxic Cane Toad without succumbing to its toxins!
  • The Keelback is semi-aquatic, meaning it spends a good portion of its time in the water.
  • Keelbacks have been found in outdoor fish ponds before; with a few less fish in them prior to the Snakes presence!
  • Keelbacks are active both day and night.
  • Keelbacks almost always eat their prey from the rear first.
  • Keelbacks are very course and rough to the touch, likely and advantage in their aquatic lifestyles.
  • Despite not frequently climbing, a Keelback was once spotted 5m up in a Tree!

A Snake Catchers Story…

“It was a rainy afternoon when the phone rang. The homeowner on the other end of the line was in hysterics, detailing to me how she had spotted five Snakes in her yard! My mind began racing as I thought about moist likely scenario. Five Snakes! ‘They must be new hatchings;’ I thought to myself. The site was only six minutes from where I was so I raced out there. As I entered the house, she showed me the snakes through the window and to my amazement there were indeed five Keelbacks all sitting on the rock wall. I raced out, grabbing Snake after Snake and bagging them. I got four until the last got itself into an inaccessible position in the rock wall. About a half hour after I left, I was called back because he came back, and this time I got him! All five were safely released together at a local creek.”