The rough-scaled snake is a moderately sized and partially arboreal snake commonly found in Queensland. Despite sharing a similar appearance to the Keelback snake, the rough-scaled snake’s closest relative is actually the venomous tiger snake!
Active during both the day and night, this snake is highly venomous and can be incredibly defensive if it feels threatened. Keep an eye out for this little hunter!
These snakes are usually brown to olive-brown with irregular dark bands or blotches across its back. A rough scaled snake’s underbelly is a light cream colour but can also be tinged slightly green. Adults tend to be around 70cm long.
This snake gets its name from the pronounced central ridge, or keel, that runs along the length of their body. The rough texture of these keeled scales helps the rough scaled snake climb trees and grip onto its prey. These keels have gotten them confused with the non-venomous keelback snake!
The rough scaled snake can be seen in coastal locations, with major populations found in the north- and south-eastern regions of Queensland, as well as in New South Wales. These predatory snakes prefer to live in moist habitats that range from wet rainforests to shrub and grasslands, and prefer staying close to swamps or waterways.
The rough scaled snake is as happy in trees as it is on the ground and usually takes shelter in tree hollows, crevices, and in bushes like ferns.
Rough scaled snakes are typically nervous in nature, making them prone to defensive tactics when they feel provoked or threatened.
A defensive rough scaled snake will raise its body up into an S-shape and hiss pointedly at their attacker. This hissing can be explosive as the snake tries to make itself seem bigger and more threatening. If approached too closely, these snakes will strike out and bite repeatedly before trying to escape.
Having large fangs and highly toxic venom containing coagulant, neurotoxic, hemolytic, and cytotoxic properties, a single bit from this snake can be fatal.
These snakes have a considerably wide diet of vertebrae prey, which includes frogs, lizards, birds, and even small mammals. The rough scaled snake has even been observed eating the carrion of frogs!
Rough scaled snakes are active hunters and may even ambush their prey, from both trees and on the ground.
If you see a rough scaled snake in your garden, it is very important to maintain a safe distance from the snake while keeping a close eye on its whereabouts. These snakes can be confused with other snakes, such as the Keelback snake or tiger snake; never approach a wild snake, even if you think you may know what species it is.
Snake bites from venomous species like the rough scaled snake can be fatal, and immediate medical attention is always required for bites. Ensure pets and children are kept far from the snake.
When we’re looking for a snake, the first places we look are along the walls and under debris. Snakes try to avoid predators by moving along the walls and beneath cover. Unless they are going from concealment to cover or seeking warmth from the sun, it’s unusual to observe a snake moving out in the open.
We study their body language once we discover the snake, before we attempt to catch it. This tells us what the snake is thinking and indicates what it might do. We can tell when they are going to run, stand up and fight, or simply be apathetic toward our presence based on their body language. It’s critical for us to understand how to capture and handle snakes using this information.
After they’ve been captured, they’re put in a bag and kept quiet in a dark, tight space. This keeps us safe while handling the snake, as well as allows the snake to calm down.
Following the capture of the snake, they are relocated to suitable bushland and set free. Each snake is assigned its own habitat and food. As a result, we release them into areas that are ideal for each species. Keelbacks and Red-bellied black snakes enjoy frogs and lizards, so we put them in areas near water sources such as rivers or dams.
During an operation, we always want to double-check the snakes for health and remove any external parasites like ticks before they are released. If the snake is not healthy enough to be released, it may be due to injury or sickness; they are taken to Australia Zoo’s wildlife hospital for further evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation.
As snake catchers, all the snakes we catch are logged with the department of wildlife and science. This is so they can keep track of where each snake has been caught and released, to monitor and maintain the biodiversity in the area.
We have also been keeping a personal log of all the snakes we have caught on the Sunshine Coast that you can view on our website. This way you can see the species and location of each snake we have caught around the sunshine coast and in your areas.
Rough scaled snakes are commonly brown in colour with black bands or stripes on their backs. They look quite similar to the Keelback snake, but their closest relative is actually the venomous tiger snake!
If you encounter what you suspect may be a rough scaled snake, the following are some common identifiers for the species:
As this snake is venomous, it’s best to keep a safe distance and contact experienced venomous snake handlers like Snake Rescue Sunny Coast. Never approach a wild snake or attempt to capture it yourself.
Yes, the rough scaled snake is venomous. It has venom glands that produce a potent neurotoxin, which can cause serious medical issues or even death in humans. The venom of this snake is considered one of the most toxic of all Australian snakes.
The symptoms of a bite from an Australian rough scaled snake can vary depending on the amount of venom injected and the location of the bite. Common symptoms can include severe pain, swelling, bleeding, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, paralysis, and respiratory distress. In some cases, a bite from this snake can be fatal if left untreated.
If you are bitten by a rough scaled snake, it is important to seek immediate medical attention and call 000. Do not attempt to suck the venom out of the wound or apply a tourniquet, as this can actually make the situation worse.
The recommended first aid for a snakebite is to immobilise the affected limb, keep the person calm and still, and seek medical assistance as soon as possible.
The rough scaled snake is typically a nervous species, which makes them more likely to display acts of aggression when facing off would-be threats. A common defense mechanism these snakes use is to hiss, raise their body up into an S-shape, and strike if they feel threatened.
If you encounter a rough scaled snake, it is important to leave it alone and keep a safe distance. Call the team at Snake Rescue Sunny Coast as soon as you can to have the visiting snake accurately identified, safely captured and relocated.
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