COPPERHEAD SNAKES. (Austrelaps)
A somewhat small to very large and robust elapide snake, found throughout the southeastern part of Australia, including Tasmania with three known sub species in this genus, being;
- Highlands Copperhead - (Austrelaps ramsayi), found throughout the cooler regions of the Great Dividing Range in New South Wales to the eastern part of Victoria & growing to a length of a metre or so. The body is darkish grey to black on top with possible redish/orange to cream marking along the sides, with banding around the mouth.
- Lowlands Copperhead - (Austrelaps superbus), found throughout southern Victoria and southeastern South Australia & Tasmania and some Bass Strait Islands with some specimens being recorded as large as 1.75 metres in length. The colour may range from blackish/brown to dark grey to redish brown on the back with distinctive orange/red scaling on the sides of the snake.
PYGMY COPPERHEAD - Mt. Lofty Ranges or Adelaide Hills Copperhead Snake. (A. labialis)
The smallest in the species, this snakes grows to a length of about 75cm; (0.75mt) and is dark greyish/black to dark olive grey on the back and sides with paler anterior edgings with a dark transverse bar about four to five scales back behind the head. Prominent creamish barring around the lips and side of the head are distinctive.
The Pygmy Copperhead Snake is found throughout Kangaroo Island, the colder and wetter areas of the Mt. Lofty Ranges & isolated areas of the Fleurieu Peninsular in Sth. Australia. The Adelaide Hills is the only area of mainland Australia where this particular species is found & therefore must be considered on the "Endangered Species" list. Although diurnal in nature this snake is sometimes encountered hunting it's prey during an evening. This species is often encountered basking in sunlit sheltered areas in extremely cool to cold weather, whcih would noirmally see other snakes - inactive or in hibernation. Predominately it feeds upon frogs, small lizards eg; skinks including small blue tongue lizards & smaller snakes. The female can produce from 2 to 10 live born young hatching during January & February.
Generally associated with freshwater courses, rivers, creeks, dams etc; due to it's main diet of frogs, the Pygmy Copperhead snake is generally found in and around areas of thick vegetation, flat rocks & stones, stone retaining walls, fallen and rotting timber, under logs, thick grasses and ground covers.
Although a shy and retreating snake by nature, if cornered or feeling threatened this snake may hiss loudly & take on a threatening posture, flattening it's neck and rearing up off the ground in a striking stance, sometimes with it's mouth open ready to bite.
The venom of the Copperhead has neurotoxic, haemolytic and cytolytic actions & is considered "Extremely Dangerous" to man. Upon any suspected snakebite, immediately apply First Aid (Pressure Bandage & Immobilization technique) bring transport to the victim & transport to the nearest magor hospital for emergency treatment.