Pseudechis colletti Click to enlarge image
Collet's snake, Nonda Qld Image: Hal Coggar
© Hal Coggar

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    colletti
    Genus
    Pseudechis
    Family
    Elapidae
    Suborder
    Serpentes
    Order
    Squamata
    Class
    Reptilia
    Phylum
    Chordata
  • Size Range
    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.
  • Habitats
    subtropical, temperate, grassland, low open shrubland, low open woodland
  • Life history mode
    crepuscular, diurnal, terrestrial
  • Feeding Habits
    carnivorous
  • View Bio Regions
    Bio Regions
    Mitchell Grass Downs - QLD

Introduction

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.

Identification

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.

Habitat

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.

Distribution

Drier areas of central inland Queensland.

Biomaps map of Collett’s Snake specimens in the Australian Museum collection. http://www.biomaps.net.au/biomaps2/mapam.jsp?cqn=Pseudechis%20colletti&cql=sn&csy=Square

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.

Breeding behaviours

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.

Conversation status

Listed as Rare (Queensland).

Danger to humans

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.

  1. If bitten call emergency services: Mobile phone: 112 Landline: 000
  2. Apply pressure-immobilisation bandage over the injury and along the limb or affected area to prevent the venom from spreading throughout the body:
  • Wind the bandage around the bitten arm or leg, starting from the bite.
  • The bandage should not be so tight that it restricts blood flow.
  • Wrap the entire limb, then apply a splint to prevent movement.
  • Keep the victim as still as possible.
  • Do not remove the bandage.

Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

First aid guidelines were correct at time of publication however these guidelines change over time. For up to date first aid information consult medical professionals such as St John's Ambulance.

References

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