June 2015

Watch those tootsies

Please help identify the snake that I found in my shoe when I put my foot in. I live in Bundaberg.

Answer

You are very lucky you were not bitten! The snake is a juvenile Eastern Brown Snake (Pseudonaja textilis). Even the young of this highly venomous species can potentially deliver a fatal bite. For small snakes, a dark confined space is a refuge in which to hide from predators. When that shelter is a shoe, there is the chance of a serious snakebite. Snakes are very reluctant to attack unless provoked, but from this snake’s point of view the sudden entry of a human foot would be interpreted as an intrusion that could warrant a defensive strike. Brown snakes are common near human habitations. One or more species of brown snakes are likely to occur in or near virtually all Queensland towns and cities. Provided we use common sense they are rarely a problem. The snake in the shoe illustrates the importance of watching where we put our hands and feet. Never reach over or under anything without a clear view of what may be lurking. And if your shoes are on the floor or verandah, shake them out before you put them on!

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