Two snakes with rough scales

November 2009

keelback snake head under towel

Is a snake with keeled scales always dangerous?

Can you identify this snake please? It is almost 1 metre long, the thickness of a man's thumb and has very rough scales. We have had several sightings over the years at Narangba. We are concerned to know if it is venomous.

Answer

midbody photo keelback snake

There are two species of land snakes in eastern Queensland with 'rough' or keeled scales along the length of their bodies - the venomous Rough-scaled Snake, Tropidechis carinatus and the non-venomous Keelback Snake, Tropidonophis mairii. Luckily you also sent a head shot so we can identify the snake in your photo as the harmless Keelback or Freshwater Snake.

Keelback Snakes have a loreal scale which is located between the nasal scale (the scale that surrounds the nostril) and the preocular scale (the scale immediately in front of the eye). Rough-scaled Snakes do not have this scale; the nasal and preocular scales touch.

Snake with loreal scale

Snake with loreal scale.

Snake without loreal scale

Snake without loreal scale.

Now try our Identification Quiz!

Using that information and the diagrams, see if you can correctly identify the Rough-scaled Snake and the Freshwater Snake in the photos!

Keelback Snake Tropidonophis mairii Photo: Steve Wilson.

A: Keelback Snake Tropidonophis mairii Photo: Steve Wilson.

Rough-scaled Snake Tropidechis carinatus Photo: Steve Wilson

B: Rough-scaled Snake Tropidechis carinatus Photo: Steve Wilson.

Answer

A: Keelback Snake Tropidonophis mairii

B: Rough-scaled Snake Tropidechis carinatus

We are happy to assist with identification from photos, but you must take responsibility for your own safety. Best to avoid close-ups!

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