Golden-crowned Snake, Cacophis squamulosus
Golden-crowned Snake, Cacophis squamulosus Image: Stephen Mahony
Australian Museum

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    squamulosus
    Genus
    Cacophis
    Family
    Elapidae
    Suborder
    Serpentes
    Order
    Squamata
    Class
    Reptilia
    Subphylum
    Vertebrata
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    50 - 75 cm

Introduction

The Golden-crowned Snake is a small nocturnal, terrestrial species that is sometimes encountered on warm nights in suburban areas. Domestic cats may bring one inside and cause some alarm. However, it is not considered to be a dangerous snake.

Identification

The Golden-crowned Snake is brown to grey above and pink below, with a yellowish crown-shaped marking on the head which gives it its name. The pupils are vertically elliptical.

Habitat

The Golden-crowned Snake lives in deep forest and sandstone areas.

During the day, the Golden-crowned Snake shelters under stones, logs and leaf litter, emerging at night to feed.

Distribution

The Golden-crowned Snake is found on the east coast and adjacent ranges, from central New South Wales to south-eastern Queensland, preferring deep forest in the north of its range. In the south, it can be found in sandstone areas, being more common in the northern parts of Sydney.

A related species is the Dwarf Crowned Snake, Cacophis krefftii, which is much smaller (25 cm), with a dark-grey to black body and a cream to yellow hood over the nape of its neck. This species ranges from the central coast of New South Wales to south-eastern Queensland, and does not occur in Sydney.

Feeding and diet

The Golden-crowned Snake feeds at night. It searches for sleeping lizards by scent, taking them from their night-time retreats. It may also eat frogs and blind snakes.

Other behaviours and adaptations

The Golden-crowned Snake is nocturnal and very secretive.

Life history cycle

The Golden-crowned Snake reproduces by laying 2 - 15 eggs, with an average clutch of about six. The eggs are laid in January and hatch in March. Pregnant females have been observed lying on warm roads at night, possibly to assist in egg incubation. The young measure about 16 cm in total length at birth.

Danger to humans

The Golden-crowned Snake is venomous, but not considered dangerous. When cornered, these snakes flatten their heads, arch the neck strongly and make a series of striking movements with a closed mouth, but rarely actually bite.

References

  • Cogger, H.G. 1992. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.
  • Glasby, C.J., Ross, G.J.B. & Beesley, P.L. (eds) 1993. Fauna of Australia. Vol. 2A Amphibia & Reptilia. AGPS, Canberra.
  • Griffiths, K. 1997. Frogs and Reptiles of the Sydney Region. UNSW Press, Sydney.
  • Swan, G. 1990. A Field Guide to Snakes and Lizards of New South Wales. Three Sister Productions, Winmalee.