Demansia psammophis Click to enlarge image
Pictures of a Yellow-faced Whip Snake (Demansia psammophis) by Stephen Mahony. Copyright Stephen Mahony Image: Stephen Mahony
© Stephen Mahony

Fast Facts

  • Classification
    Species
    psammophis
    Genus
    Demansia
    Family
    Elapidae
    Order
    Squamata
    Subclass
    Lepidosauria
    Class
    Reptilia
    Phylum
    Chordata
    Kingdom
    Animalia
  • Size Range
    80 cm - 100 cm

Introduction

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake is a slender and fast-moving snake, active during the day. It is common throughout most of Australia. It is often confused with the Eastern Brown Snake, and it is hard to observe closely, being alert and fleeing quickly when disturbed.

Identification

It is pale grey to brown in colour, with reddish colouring on the head, and sometimes on the tail as well. The belly is grey-green to yellowish. A dark comma-shaped streak runs from the eye to the corner of the mouth. The face is usually but not always yellowish, with a narrow, yellow-edged dark bar around the front of the snout from nostril to nostril. The average length is 80cm, with a maximum of 1m. Males are larger than females. It can be distinguished from the Eastern Brown by its facial markings, and smaller size.

Habitat

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake is found in a wide range of habitats, except swamps and rainforest, from the coast to the arid interior.

Distribution

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake is common throughout most of Australia.

Seasonality

During winter theYellow-faced Whip Snake may shelter beneath rocks, and has been observed aggregating with several other individuals on occasion.

Feeding and diet

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake feeds mainly on small diurnal lizards, as well as frogs and lizard eggs. They have good eyesight, and can chase and capture lizards on the run.

Life history cycle

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake lays eggs in early summer in the south of its range, with clutches of 5-20 eggs (the average is six) being recorded. Communal egg-laying of up to 200 eggs, in deep soil or rock crevices, has also been reported.

Danger to humans

The Yellow-faced Whip Snake is a venomous snake, but is not considered dangerous. However, a bite could be extremely painful, with much local swelling.

References

  • HG Cogger. 1992. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia. Reed Books.
  • H Ehmann. 1992. Encyclopedia of Australian Animals: Reptiles. Angus & Robertson.
  • K Griffiths. 1997. Frogs and Reptiles of the Sydney Region. UNSW Press, Sydney