Keelback Snake (Fresh Water Snake)

Identifying A Keelback Snake

Keelback Snake (Tropidonophis Mairii) Also Known as a Fresh Water Snake

The keelback snake gets its name from the distinct, raised longitudinal ridge, or “keel”, on each scale. It is often confused with the highly venomous rough-scaled snake.

The keelback is active at night and during the day, and can be found in moist areas or areas with access to water. They are very common on the Sunshine Coast and residents may see several pass through their gardens. Although the keelback snake is not venomous to humans, it may strike out when threatened.


About the Keelback Snake

The water snake, or keelback, is gray, brown, or shades of olive in colour, with irregular dark cross bands along its back that may be broken.

Their bellies are cream, salmon pink, or green with an orange flush. As its name suggests, the back scales are strongly keeled in 15 to 17 rows, at mid-body.

The average size of a keelback snake can range from 60 – 75cm in length, though some have been found at lengths of up to 100cm.


Where can you find the Keelback Snake?

The keelback snake is Australia’s only non-venomous, semi-aquatic snake, and it usually inhabits areas close to water, such as riverbanks, creeks, forests, and swamps. However, residents and business owners on the Sunshine Coast may find these snakes in built-up, suburban areas as well. Where there are creeks or drainage lines, you can expect to see more keelback or water snakes, especially if their prey can be found in the area.

Keelback snakes are often spotted foraging among logs, piles of wood, and moist areas.


Is the Keelback Snake Dangerous?

These snakes are non-venomous and usually chooses to flee when frightened. In extreme situations, where the snake make feel threatened or is being incorrectly handled, it may bite or secrete a strong smell from its anal glands to warn off would-be predators.


What Does the Keelback snake eat?

Amphibians, small lizards and fish are common prey for the keelback snake.

The keelback is also one of the very few, native vertebrates that is capable of eating the cane toad, which has poison-secreting glands on its shoulders. Unlike other predators, the keelback snake is impervious to the toad’s toxins and able to ingest it regardless.


What to do if you see a keelback snake

These small, semi-aquatic snakes are common on the Sunshine Coast, and you may find one in your garden or on your property. If you spot a keelback snake, or suspect there may be one living in your home or garden, get in touch with our team. We operate 24/7 and can provide identification, trapping and relocation services for wild snakes. To ensure your safety and the safety of your family and pets, our team always aims to assist you as soon as possible.

Remember to maintain a safe distance from the snake, but keep an eye on it until we get there!

See other snakes commonly found on the Sunshine Coast here...

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Areas Covered: Caloundra to Noosa; Beerwah to Pomona;
Maleny to Mapleton and all areas in between.

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