Animal Species:Collett’s Snake
One of the most spectacularly-coloured snakes in Australia, the Collett’s Snake is a shy and rarely seen inhabitant of Queensland’s black soil plains.
Standard Common Name
Downs Tiger Snake (local name) nb. despite this common name this snake is not closely related to the tiger snakes (Notechis).
Collett’s Snake is a strongly built snake with a robust body and a broad blunt head barely distinct from its body. It has an irregular banded pattern of reddish to salmon-pink patches on a darker brown or black background. The top of the head is uniformly dark although the snout may be slightly paler. The iris is dark brown with a reddish-brown rim around the pupil. Ventral scales are yellow-orange to cream.
Midbody scales 19 rows, ventral scales 215-235, anal scale divided, subcaudals single anteriorly, divided posteriorly.
The largest measured specimen was a male with a snout-vent length of 1775mm, although the average total length is around 1.5m. Adult males are significantly larger in mean snout-vent length than females.
May resemble a reddish-brown form of Blue-bellied Black Snake (Pseudechis guttatus), however the known distributions of these two species do not generally overlap.
Drier areas of central inland Queensland.
Distribution by bioregion
Terrestrial Bioregions: Mitchell Grass Downs - QLD
Distribution by collection data
Collett’s Snake inhabits the warm temperate to sub-tropical blacksoil plains that are seasonally inundated by monsoonal rains. They shelter in deep soil cracks, gilgais (sinkholes), and under fallen timber.
Terrestrial Habitat: subtropical, temperate
Vegetation Habitat: grassland, low open shrubland, low open woodland
Feeding and Diet
In the wild Collett’s Snake will feed on mammals, lizards, snakes, and frogs.
Other behaviours and adaptations
Secretive and rarely seen. Diurnal, may also be active on warm evenings.
Life history modes
crepuscular, diurnal, terrestrial
Mating and reproduction
Most of what is known about the breeding biology of Collett’s Snakes comes from observations of captive animals. Male combat has been reported in captivity, but no specific details are available. The peak season for courtship and mating appears to be between August and October. An observation of courtship involved the male following a newly introduced female, crawling over her back and making rippling and jerking motions while hooking his tail under hers for intromission. Copulation may last up to 6 hours.
Approximately 56 days after mating the female will lay 7 to 14 eggs (October to December), which hatch up to 91 days later (depending on the incubation temperature). The hatchling makes a series of longitudinal slits in the shell and may stay in the egg for up to 12 hours before emerging. Pseudechis colletti hatchlings are unusually large compared to other Pseudechis hatchlings.
Listed as Rare (Queensland).
Danger to humans and first aid
Collett’s Snake is relatively placid, but will defend itself if provoked. Firstly it inflates and raises its forebody in a low curve while giving out loud short hisses to deter the offender. This display is repeated until the snake tires and backs away; however if pressed further the snake will strike out and attempt to bite. The venom is considered to be highly toxic, and anyone suspected of being bitten by a Collett’s Snake should seek immediate medical assistance.
Cogger, H. (2000) “Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia”, Reed New Holland
Greer, A.E. (2006) “Encyclopedia of Australian Reptiles : Elapidae”, Australian Museum
Ehmann, H. (1992) “Encyclopedia of Australian Animals : Reptiles”, Australian Museum, Angus & Robertson
Mirtshin, P. and Davis, R. (1991) “Dangerous Snakes of Australia”, revised edition, Ure Smith Press
Wilson, S. and Swan, G. (2008) “A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia”, Reed New Holland
Cecilie Beatson , Technical Officer