Red-bellied Black Snake

The Red-bellied Black Snake is another snake named by a creative and talented person. They are a black snake. Their belly is red. That’s the end of the story. They’re also quite a large snake. Up to 2m long is typical, but they’ve been measured at 2.5m. That’s more than eight feet long if you’re more comfortable with archaic units.

The Red Bellied Black snake is one of Australia’s worst venomous snakes. I don’t mean they’re the most dangerous. I mean the opposite. They are completely rubbish at being venomous.Australians usually think these are dangerous snakes. They are not.

If a Red-bellied Black is approached by a person, the first thing they’ll do is run away. Technically, they’re running for whatever is the closest pre-arranged safe spot. Which could be near the person, so it may look like they’re attacking, but they’re not.

At this point, the Red-bellied Black is so unaggressive that it will rarely bite, even if picked up or if stepped on. If they do by some miracle get up enough savage serpentine fury to actually bite, they’re so unaggressive that they often bite with their mouth closed. This is the most rubbish strike any snake can possibly make. That’s not even trying. It’s almost insulting. That’s not a bite, it’s like a nudge, or a poke. You can’t just boop people. Jesus Christ, snake, this is embarrassing.

If the snake does bite (and actually gets its mouth open successfully) it will often do such a half-assed job of it that it’s pretty clear the snake just has no freaking idea what it’s doing and saw this on TV once. There’s a good chance that once it’s done, it will apologise profusely and offer to call someone for you.

It may be a bad example of a venomous snake, but it’s still venomous, and any snake bite should be taken seriously. There are records of death from bites by these guys. They’re old and unconfirmed reports, and it’s possible the snake was misidentified. But there IS the possibility. This is especially the case for a child, or also a pet.

Symptoms of the venom include nausea, vomiting, headaches, or even collapse. Entertainingly, it will make your pee a rusty brown colour. It may be worth seeking out a bite just for that. Unfortunately that effect is caused by the systemic breakdown of your muscle tissue, but still, fun!

Antivenom is not generally used for these snake bites, because.. well, they’re just not that bad. If antivenom is warranted, Tiger Snake antivenom is used because the potency of that antivenom means only a small amount is needed.

All of Australia’s snakes should be left the hell alone. For a deadly serpent these are close to harmless. Leave them alone and they’ll leave you alone. And certainly, of all things, please don’t kill them. It’s not just illegal to harm them, it’s an absolute dick move.

Redbelly Black
Pseudechis porphyriacus