This is from two weeks ago, but as the subject of snake identifications came up today on the Canberra Ornithologists Group, I decided to process these images, and send them off to the inquirer. I have seen two Copperhead Snakes in the last two weeks, while out in the local bush. So, I decided to publish them here as well, on the basis that it is timely and topical, obviously.
I am convinced that many reported snake sightings are poorly identified. Probably because people are scared of Snakes, and do not know exactly what to look for anyway. If you keep your head, and stay calm, and have a good look, then you can learn quite a lot.
Do not ever try to block the snake from wherever it wishes to go, and do not ever attempt to pick up a snake, or try to catch it, let alone try to kill it. They are protected species, after all. And they can be dangerous if they do bite you. Most people who get bitten were trying to kill a snake. Why? The Snake does not want to eat you. It will however, defend itself if you attack it.
Both these recent sightings were in dense scrub, under tall Eucalypt forest, in Sandstone country. The first was near the Belmore Falls Road (not near the Falls). The second, was this specimen, over at Fitzroy Falls, right beside the track leading back to the main Falls from Twin Falls. The Copperhead is also the only species of Snake which I have seen in the long grass growing on the red basalt soil, at my property.
This is the Fitzroy Falls specimen. You can see immediately that it is a dull slate-grey colour. This is typical of the Highland Copperhead Snake (Austrelaps ramsayi)
Below is the head of the Copperhead - without any "copper colour". It has a light grey triangular patch from between its eyes, to the front of its head. There is a whitish colour on the throat.
"The appearance of the Copperhead is a narrow head, with a heavy build. They either have grey, brassy, copper, russet, chocolate or black on their back, with cream, yellow or red along the sides. The light scales above its lips often give a striped appearance. The belly is a yellowish cream or grey." Source: http://home.iprimus.com.au/gunnado/copperhead.html
As the Snake turned to leave me alone, the pale yellow colour of its underbelly was clearly visible, from the side.The other relatively common snake in this NSW Southern Highlands area is the Red-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis porphyriacus) These two specimens were photographed in different areas, well away from Robertson, but I am showing them here, to show the contrasting shine on the back of this species. Of road-killed Snakes I have seen in this district, most have been Red-bellied Black Snakes. Some have been very large, and very thick indeed.
The easiest distinguishing feature is the shine on the scales on the back of the Red-bellied Black Snake. The red colour of its belly is usually barely visible along the sides of the snake. This Snake was seen near Narooma, on a patch of rocky ground, beside a bush road. The bush in the district there was quite thick undergrowth. There were many dense ferns just past where the road edge ended.This specimen was seen near Mudgee, on the sandy banks of the Goulburn River. If you click to enlarge the image, you will see how very shiny this snake was, on its back. It was about 1.3 metres long, but it was not a thick specimen. It was however, near water, which is typical for this species, which is notoriously fond of frogs (as food).I often hear local people say they saw a "brown snake", but I have never seen a Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis) in this area. I did once see a very small, light sandy-brown coloured snake, but I suspect it was something else, possibly one of the small, less common and less easily recognised snakes. I did not get a good look at that animal, as it did not hang around.