The eastern brown snake is a snake that has the second most toxic, or poisonous, venom of any snake in the world. Its scientific name, Pseudonaja textilis, comes from the Greek language and means “woven false cobra”. It is also widely known as the common brown snake.
Danger to Humans:
The inland taipan is the only other snake in the world with a more toxic venom than the eastern brown snake. However, the eastern brown causes the most snakebite deaths in Australia, where both species live. It is considered a very aggressive snake, and humans must always treat them with caution.
The eastern brown snake is found in the entire eastern half of Australia and can survive in any type of habitat, except for the rainforest. It has adapted or adjusted, to live in habitats ranging from farms to towns.
It finds shelter in anything from logs to a home’s garbage pile! Its ability to live in many habitats means it comes into contact with humans often.
The eastern brown is usually around 5 feet long but can reach lengths up to 8 feet. The males are usually longer than the females.
The color of the eastern brown snake is varied and can range from gray to tan or even dark brown. Its belly can be cream, yellow, or orange with orange or gray blotches. The snake’s neck cannot be told apart from its body, and this feature helps identify the eastern brown from other similar species.
The fangs of the eastern brown snake are smaller than other snakes in Australia. However, what it lacks in size, it makes up for with poison! Sometimes, however, the eastern brown snake’s bite is a “dry bite”, containing no poison.
In fact, many people bitten by an eastern brown did not realize they were bitten at all! The bite of this snake can be painless.
The eastern brown snake has an appetite for small mammals, especially rodents, such as rats and mice. It tends to seek food near barns where rodents like to hang out, and its preferred main dish often brings it into contact with people.
The eastern brown snakes provide a valuable service to farmers and homeowners by controlling the population of rats and mice! The snake also can eat birds, frogs, other snakes, and reptiles, like lizards or geckoes.
The eastern brown snake will actually look for prey in likely hiding places, so they are sometimes found in fields, barns, or even houses. This is also a reason why they often come into contact with humans.
- Special Adaptations: The eastern brown’s body makes the snake a lean, mean muscular machine. It is a very fast snake and strikes its prey at lightning speed. It also has a unique way of showing when it feels threatened. It will raise its head and body off the ground and spread its neck laterally, or side to side. This is similar to what a cobra does before it strikes, and this behavior is where the snake gets its scientific name.
- Reproduction: Eastern brown snakes are oviparous with females laying up to 25 eggs at a time. Eastern browns are known to have communal, or shared, nests, where several females lay their eggs. The time it takes the eggs to hatch depends on the temperature of the ground as the eggs incubate. It can take anywhere from 1 to 3 months. New hatchlings can stay in the egg after peeking out from 4-8 hours!
- Conservation Status: The outlook of an eastern brown snake’s future is positive due to its ability to thrive in areas inhabited by humans and its preferred food of rodents, including house mice.
Striking Statements of Fact:
- The eastern brown snake does indeed have predators. Birds and feral, or wild, cats are known to eat them.
- The amount of distance an eastern brown snake allows someone to approach them depends on the temperature of the snake’s body! A snake with a body temperature of less than 76 degrees Fahrenheit will allow someone to get closer than those with a body temperature over 76 degrees. A human cannot use a thermometer to take the temperature of every eastern brown snake seen, so it is best to not get too close to one at all!