The tiger snake, like its jungle and ocean counterparts, the tiger and tiger shark, is considered to be quite deadly. It is one of the most dangerous snakes in Australia. Its scientific genus name is Notechis, and there is a scientific debate on exactly how many species of tiger snakes exist.
Some believe there are two main species, the mainland tiger snake and the black tiger snake, while others believe there is only one species with several subspecies.
Danger to Humans:
Tiger snakes are considered to be deadly and aggressive when it feels threatened. It is one of the most feared snakes in Australia. Tiger snakes will not usually bite unless they feel they are in danger and would rather slither away before even being seen by humans.
Before the development of an anti-venom, 40-60% of tiger snake bites resulted in death. If a person is bitten by a tiger snake, immediate medical attention is needed.
Tiger snakes are found in the southern and western parts of Australia. Tiger snakes like to be around areas with a close water source. They are often found in marshy areas around lakes, swamps, ponds, creeks, and even drains! They are also found in grasslands that have lots of cover and water nearby.
The tiger snake can be lengths between 3 and 7 feet long. The color of these snakes varies greatly and depends on the type of environment the individual tiger snake lives in. The many different colors tiger snakes come in is what causes the intense debate among scientists about how many species there actually are. It is truly a snake of many colors!
As the name suggests, most tiger snakes usually do have stripes of some color and can be found in shades of gray, green, yellow, orange, and even black. The name tiger snake results from the fact that most dark-colored snakes have yellow striped patterns.
However, not all tiger snakes have stripes. Some individuals are solid colors with no pattern. Tiger snakes that live on islands and in higher altitudes often are not striped and are a dark solid color. This allows them to soak up the heat faster during the short growing season found in these environments.
The tiger snake will usually only bite in self-defense, and its body is a built-in warning system to outside threats. When the snake feels threatened, it will assume a cobra-like stance with a head and neck area that flattens out and a raised body. It will hiss loudly at its “attacker” and inflate and deflate its body.
The tiger snake’s favorite meal is frogs, but it will also eat bats, lizards, small mammals, and carrion, or the flesh of dead animals. Scientists have found the size of prey available for the tiger snake determines the size the snake will get. One island population of very large tiger snakes often feast on large chicks, while a very small dwarf size of tiger snake preys on small skinks.
- Although mostly a terrestrial, or land-dwelling, snake, the tiger snake is also an excellent swimmer. This comes in handy since frogs are often found around water. In fact, tiger snakes can be underwater for about 9 minutes at a time before coming up for air! Since tiger snakes are ectothermic, or cold-blooded, they are more active on warmer days. In cold weather, they aestivate, or spend long periods of time, in underground, empty animal burrows. They sometimes go as much as 4 feet underground! This is not like hibernation because they will come up to the surface to bask in the sun on warmer days. Hibernating animals do not come out of their resting places until spring arrives.
- Reproduction: Female tiger snakes give birth to 10-64 live young, which are then immediately left on their own to fend for themselves. Twenty-six neonates, or newborns, were found in the same winter shelter, providing each other warmth!
- Conservation Status: Some populations of tiger snakes are listed as vulnerable. Certain populations are declining due to pollution, overgrazing, and a decrease in food supplies due to introduced species. Some tiger snake species will probably be endangered in the near future.
Striking Statements of Fact:
- Tiger snakes are also excellent climbers. They have been known to climb trees, as well as man-made objects. They have been found in places up to 33 feet high! A bat has even been found in the stomach of a tiger snake showing how high it will go to find food!