The rough scaled snake is a moderately sized and partially arboreal snake commonly found in Queensland. Despite sharing a similar appearance to the brown tree 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 brown tree 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.