Scientific Name: Pseudonaja textilis
Jay 'Judith' Best, Sydney
Although brown snakes are temperamental and dangerous creatures, they will always try and avoid a confrontation with humans if possible. There is certainly no advantage for the snake in attacking something as large as a person so they will only do this as a last resort. Given the opportunity, even brown snakes will flee rather than attack.
The eastern brown snake is the species responsible for most deaths caused by snakebite in Australia, although, with the advent of efficient first-aid treatment and antivenom, there are now usually only one or two deaths per year. A large adult brown snake is a formidable creature. They may exceed two metres in length and, on hot days, can move at surprising speed. It has a slender body and is variable in colour ranging from uniform tan to grey or dark brown. The belly is cream, yellow or pale orange with darker orange spots.
The eastern brown snake inhabits most of eastern Australia from the desert to the coast. It inhabits a wide range of habitats but is particularly prevalent in open grasslands, pastures and woodland.
This species feeds mostly on small mammals, particularly rodents. It has rapidly developed a preference for introduced rats and mice and, for this reason, is often found around farm buildings. Such habits regularly bring the species in contact with humans and its bad temper and toxic venom may lead to potentially dangerous conflicts. Despite its reputation, it still performs a very useful function for farmers by controlling the numbers of introduced rodent pests.
In spring, male brown snakes may be observed engaging in a ritualized combat dance with one snake trying to dominate and displace the other. The winner will then mate with the local females, who will produce clutches of up to 30 eggs in late spring or early summer.