Mind your step – Red-bellied Black Snakes!

Bushwalking often rewards me with interesting wildlife, some of which is better enjoyed from a distance, like this young Red-bellied Black Snake, basking in the morning sun beside a small, slow running stream. Even though it is young, it is still dangerously venemous & should be treated with caution.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
A few days later, walking the same track I find a similar looking Red-Belly. There is a good chance it is here for the Common Eastern Froglets I had seen in the area.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Catching some rays
Along another track in the same area I was lucky to see an older, larger Red-Bellied Black Snake. Perhaps a year old, it’s face has less brown on it.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Are you lunch?
I have seen a few Adult Red-bellies on my walks, slinking under lantana in the hopes of a meal of plump Antechinus, which I’ve seen bounding away clear of the dense cover – while the Red-belly can still be heard slowly probing around, still following it’s scent.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Looking for lunch
They are suprising great swimmers for land snakes, convenient if one of your favourite meals is frog, this one was disturbed from its hiding place under canoes where frogs were sheltering.
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Swimming away!
…I wonder how they got their name!
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus
Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus


39 thoughts on “Mind your step – Red-bellied Black Snakes!

  1. Looks like you made out like a bandit spotting all of those snakes! Great shots!! How close exactly do you get to them when you take these pictures?

    Uhmm, you swim in the same waters as those poisonous snakes!? :S

  2. We caught a snake about 15inches long inside our house last night. We are on a small farm and have rbbsnakes around. This one was black but underbelly is whiteish not pink or red. What colour are the baby rbb’s? We are supposed to have brown here also but I haven’t seen any but neighbours sy they have. I can’t find a picture of the baby rbb’s hence my question. Can you help? Cheers

  3. I have read about pink bellied red-bellied blacks, personally I havenâ??t seen one with a pink belly in the wild …yet. If you were able to **SAFELY** take pictures of one it sounds like an interesting thing to share, much like the occasional blue version of the green tree snakes or uncommon albino snakes and lizards. Colouring and patterns in reptiles can be highly variable â?? like those seen in the local diamond pythons, ranging from high levels of yellow patterning through to almost completely black.

    Stay safe & if the snake poses a risk to you or pets – if it’s safe to, please call a trained wildlife rescuer – before resorting to a shovel!

  4. The snake at night was possibly an eastern small-eyed snake, but it’s hard to tell from that description. I hope he was released somewhere safely. If he comes back, take some pics. As Pete says, that would maybe allow an identification.


  5. Hi Pete,
    I was just wondering if you could give some advice. I live in a suburban area of Sydney and have three small children. In the last week we have had three snake sightings in our small cul-de-sac. One red bellied black snake and two brown snakes (hopefully the same one). This is def not the first snakes we’ve had in the area I personally usually see one a year but I’m getting a bit paranoid about what I can do to protect my children from the snakes. I understand that they are unlikely to attack them unprovoked but three year old boys are pretty good at provoking – even when they don’t realise they’re doing it. I was hoping you might be able to give me some ideas of their behaviour. We’ve been told they hibrenate in winter by some but others say that’s not true, that they are more active at night and others say they’re more active during the day. Ive borrowed books from the library but they only tell me how to recognise them and how dangerous they are, how they attack, etc not their habits.

    Are there things we can do to keep them out of our yard? we already have a dog and a cat but that doesn’t seem to be detering them – any other suggestions?
    Wildlife contacts and the local snake catcher won’t come unless we can hold the snake in our yard until they get here – not something I would like to do – and they’re not available after hours.
    Please help.

  6. A few things that may help;

    During winter there are fewer frogs about to feed on, the bulk of the red-bellieds i’ve seen were on warm days around boggy, frog inhabited areas, especially in the warmer months. They also had the cover of long grass or lantana to hide amongst or stone, logs or metal to hide safely under close by. By limiting their hiding options you can make your yard a less desirable habitat for snakes.

    keep a list of phone numbers for your local wildlife rescuers handy, you may have more than one in your area. If safe to do so, keep an eye on the snake, then if it hides the rescuer will know where to look.

    If you havent already, do a certified first-aid course, first-aid for many emergencies, including a snake bite, can save a life.

  7. I foud a dead baby snake in my drive way and it was black with a pink belly so we thougt there could be more.

  8. Man i didnt know red bellys could swim i was fishing and a snake went past me i told my Dad and he said it was an eel to make sure it wasnt i stopped dead frozen and it went of swimming. Igot home and i had a look at different eels and none of them had a red belly. Thanks pete i now know that they can swim and will be carefull..


  9. Hi Pete

    I saw a snake at 2am Sunday morning just gone – it was in my bedroom (I have a bedroom in a garage). We tried to keep watch on it whilst contacting wildlife organisations but none of them were available. We ended up losing the snake in the room somewhere. I haven’t slept in there but have received lots of different advice including it is probably there under the bed, it probably left the room. I am not sure what I should do. A wildlife rescuer came out yesterday and had a look around but said their job is to come and pick it up not search for it and when we see it again to call them.

    I have also been told to put a bucket of water out for it.

    I’ve also heard that it probably isn’t a red belly black snake because they don’t usually come out at night???

    Advice please???


  10. I’m sure the wildlife rescuer wished he could have been called out sooner, snakes are impressive hiders, capable of contorting and compressing their bodies through and into awkward spaces for example when I had my first hatchling pythons – one escaped into the insides of a computer where it clambered up and into the tiny crevice between the top of the case and the power supply – of course discovering this before spending hours pulling apart everything else in the office would have been ideal, it was still great to have my python back safely.

    Leaving heat matting, food (a dead mouse) out and water (in a deep wide bowl for example a ceramic dog dish or cheap plastic cat litter tray) would perhaps be better suited to luring out an escaped pet snake than a wild one, especially a red belly as they eat mostly frogs, some reptiles and few mammals. Snakes also have the advantage when it comes to patience, they are capable of going weeks even months without food or water. Still it’s worth a try.

    If you’ve any tiled areas where you suspect its hidden, you could try laying down a dusting of talcum powder to see where it travels when your not home, and when you are home if you leave plastic shopping bags around in the edges of your rooms you may hear it rustling when its on the move – once you do, keep and eye on it and give the wildlife rescuer a call to take care of the rest

    If you were able to safely get a photo of it if it reappears i’d be happy to identify it for you

    Good luck,

  11. Thanks Pete. Yes they indeed they wished they could have been contacted earlier but volunteers are scarce especially at Christmas time. Do you think it will leave the house and go and look for food or is it set to stay for a while!

  12. So if one chooses to look after a baby red bellied black snake like my friend that just got a snake permit (LICENSE) what would he feed it as he isn’t sure what they eat when they are still young.. And when they’re grown do they start eating dead mice?

  13. Hi Skitzo,

    Red-bellied Blacks definately will eat frogs in the wild, (I can confirm this having relocated one on a rescue recently that regurgitated a half digested striped marsh frog!) I havent observed younger ones eating personally although i’m pretty sure they eat small frogs based on where i’ve seen them basking when i bushwalk – places i’ve seen and heard lots of small frogs calling.

    In captivity, I have seen Red-bellied Black’s feeding on fresh killed mice (it is illegal to feed live vertebrates to your pets, it is also illegal to feed them other protected fauna including reptiles and frogs!) Snakes rely strongly on scent to discern what is food – if there was a snake being a trouble feeder, read up on scenting food items, like rubbing skink wee on a mouse, to trick a snake that eats skinks into start eating mice.

    Looking up more on the diet of RBBS’s it’s recorded as “60%frogs, 31% reptiles 9%mammals” thanks to a book I recommend if you want to learn a stack more
    about native snakes, “Australian Snakes – A Natural History by Rick Shine”

    Red-bellieds are not a snake I would recommend as a first snake for most people. There are many captive bred pythons on the market such as Stimson’s Pythons that are established feeders (it’s illegal to collect snakes from the wild without a very different kind of permit to your reptile keepers license). A captive bred python would give you a great introduction to the hobby (I can even recommened a few python breeders if your interested).


  14. Hi Pete

    I live in Central Queensland and found a dead snake on the road outside my place yesterday, it was (I think) a baby snake about a foot long with a light brown top and a pink belly, I have been trying to figure out what it could be by googling the description, but no luck. I have two little girls and two extremely dumb large dogs, so I thought I should find out whether it was poisonous.

  15. The other day I came face to face with a 1.2mt rbb snake at the top of the stairs (2 story house) inside the house.
    We are amazed as to how it got there!! Did it climb the stairs? Or come in off the veranda or up the toilet? Has it been carried in curled up in something?
    I have been told they are usually in pairs. Hopefully not & hopefully there are no babies in the house either.
    We tried wires, RSPC & the police but couldn’t get any one to come catch it (it went into the bedroom).
    We caught it ourselves in a box & released it over the river bank.
    We have a hurt Blue tounge in the house. Would it have been looking for it? Could it have scented it from downstairs?
    Would love to know more so maybe I can stop freaking out over finding another one!!



  16. if you see a baby red belly does that mean its mummy and sibblings are close by as well as i had a baby one in my yard at my back door and when i went to get help it was gone we can not find it and i;m scared lol can you help i think its uits under my hot water system . i also have lots of baby frogs around my yard not so many NOW THOUGH

  17. Sheena if you’ve a photo, that would greatly help in identifying the snake, detail of the head, belly and overall of the snake are helpful if your certain it is safe to get the photos. Otherwise, i’d be happy to do the best I could with any photo you could get safely from a distance of a live snake you werent certain of what it is


  18. Hi Sue, Generally when relocating Red Bellies, i’ve encountered the one snake at a time, although i’ve had a rescue that involved 2 large red bellies under a single meter long piece of iron, one much larger than the other, a possible mating pair.

    The things that make a yard attractive include protective cover and food. If you’ve long grass or stacked firewood and rodents or frogs, there is a greater chance you’ll make a snake feel at home and stick around until food or shelter run out.

    Another reason you might find many young red bellies, is that their mother had given recently live birth to them, resulting in several small slender red bellies being in the same spot at the same time!

    Its interesting that you suspect the bluetongue for luring the snake in, scent plays an important role for snakes and goannas, their forked tongues smelling in stereo, the left and right tips to their forked tongue when flicked and returned to the special “Jacobson’s” organ on the room of their mouth, can discern the strongest scent being in either left or right, allowing them to hunt down prey. I have encountered a red belly while bushwalking that I could hear investigating a network of rodent burrows in long grass under lantana (See pic above, “looking for lunch”). Eventually, an energetic rodent bounded out and up along the firetrail I was on, the red belly had missed out this time but was pretty close, and it would have been difficult to locate by site alone.

    Back onto your hunch, bluetongue skink “wee” has been used by some reptile keepers as a trick to disguise the scent of prey a snake would not normally eat. I expect it is a bit of a stretch in this case that the red belly had entered specifically for the bluetongue, there may be other reasons, including it was just too hot outside and the snake had sought shelter – i’ve relocated many snakes who’ve escaped the intense heat of a summer day in a lovely cool home or garage, one night I recall relocating a red belly at night from someones country home, as it had come in to escape intensely heavy rains that likely flooded a previous hiding place.


  19. Hot water systems can be like a magnet for snakes, most reptiles are ectothermic, relying on external heat to warm their bodies to be active and digest meals, more specifically they are poikelothermic – this is to say that they move to areas of different temperatures within their environment to regulate their body temps. An example of this naturally would be a snake basking, on a rock in sun to raise it’s temperatures before heading off into cooler areas in search of food, like your frogs. Amazingly, your hot water system provides warmth day and night, allowing your resident snake to snack whenever it chooses.

    You might wonder why being dependant on external temperatures could be beneficial to a reptile? Mammals like us, use a lot of energy regulating our temperatures with our our own energy, i’ve heard reptiles use 1/10th the energy we do by making use of the external warmth, part of why a large snake could go a lot longer without a meal than we can (*to be fair though, i’m sure a snake would be much happier feeding as regularly!)

    There are a few exceptions i’ve heard of to reptiles needing external warmth, including sea turtles that crank out the heat and are insulated by vast amounts of blubbery goodness and in maternal incubation in some snakes that produce warmth by”shivering” while around their clutch of eggs.

    If you are concerned about snakes being lured to around your hot water system, when it is out of the hiding area, if safe to do so, blocking any holes the snake was hiding in is a good start, if it is on loose earth, any tunnels would likely have been made by rodents and possibly one more reason the snake is stopping in!

  20. Hi there live on a few acres with some horses 3 cats and a border collie one my burmese cats caught a baby rrb snake yesterday – just wondered how poisonous they are to cats..I got it off her asap but worried she will get more and reading your blog there are more out there and Mum snake too.

  21. Hi Keiran, their bite is know to be dangerous to pets if not soon treated by a vet & even then there is no guarantee.

    Good ways to avoid this happening are to keep your pets away from snake by keeping them inside, or by keeping the snakes away by reducing the thing attracting the snakes to stay around your home, weather it be sheltered places to hide in long grass, under tin, piles of wood, bricks.

    Without places to feel secure the snake will move on. There are no guarantees when or where you might see the red belly’s mum, but you can control where you cat isnt.

    Check out your yellow pages to see if there is a snake removalist nearby so you have options should another snake have you concerned. c:

  22. Hi Pete, I have shared my place here in rural SE QLD with a red belly black for about 10 +years now. He is over 2 meters (which is above average size). He is also a very good climber and uses my lattice work to get up onto the guttering of the annex (about 7ft off the ground) and then he goes into the downpipe which leads to the inlet of the water tank – here he catches green frogs then drags them back out of the pipe (the way he went in) and drops down iwith frog in mouth onto the garden below and hauls his prey off to his den below the tanks. He is a truly magnificent creature and is very photogenic. I have evidence of him climbing which is not a common thing but has been noted by experts. I have some amazing footage and stills of him stalking and catching and climbing. Red bellies are generally not aggressive and I can vouch for this fact however I treat him with the up most respect at all times and NEVER forget that he lives where he lives….. We have given each other the odd fright over the years. :) Lovely photos Pete.

  23. Hi Pete,

    I have a garden with plenty of frogs, skinks, a bluetongue, some mice, tall grasses, trees and a pond. After Christmas i found a redbellied snake basking in the sun on the top of a pile of grass clippings. I called a snake removal, but he could not find the snake and now my wife and the neighbors are all saying that I have to destroy the habitat for the frogs, which I would not like to do. Is there a way to trap the snake? And what are the chances of that same snake coming back or of another one to be around?

    Thanks, Peter.

  24. Hi Pete

    Just got home from work and saw a small red belly snake about400mm to 500mm long curled like a horse shoe at first I thought it was the partner playing tricks on me.

    Then I noticed a small frog in its mouth it was an amazing black colour with a super bright red belly.it some how still didn’t look real until it moved dropping the frog the snake went under the house and the frog jumped away.

    I do have quite a large veggie patch which gets watered daily not that I have noticed any frogs before Had quite a few mice around And there is quite a bit of old timbers and such laying around making the perfect home for them the mission now is to clean this up without getting bitten I worried that I have been told that if you have seen one baby there is a likely hood that there’s lots more. This is the first time I have seen one here if I make lots of noise would this scarer them away. ???????

  25. Hi Pete,

    Last night I came across my cat playing with a baby red belly snake in my backyard. I have 2 labradors one of them being a 7 month old puppy. During the days while at work they are in the backyard. I am really worried that the snake might come back as it disappeared when I was “rescuing” my cat. Do baby bb snakes reside close to where they hatched? Does it mean there will be more of them? What can be done?


  26. Apologies for the delay in reply, my blog has experienced some down time while upgrading to new hosting, you are welcome to contact me direct on 0417364620 should you have any urgent need for advice with snakes.

    Ideally keep the dog away from the snake, in desperate need, hosing a snake with a gentle spray of cold water can be a safe way to encourage them to move on to another yard which does not mind having snakes, or a nearby reserve.

    Should the snake be sick or injured, or trapped, local rescue groups and relocators may be able to help, including myself.


  27. Snakes generally would not respond to noise, unless for example you had a snake enclosure sharing shelves with vigorously vibrating speakers with the volume turned up.

    Snakes, however, do have a great sense of smell. With their bifurcated tongues, their paired tongue tips retrieve the smells from their environment to the roof of their mouth making contact with their Jacobson’s organ. Snakes can smell in stereo! Helping to aid in decision making, whether to pursue a meal left, or right, or in the case of arboreal species, like pythons, tree snakes & even some elapids.

    Debris laying on the ground can be an issue encouraging snakes close to your home if you have dogs or young children, however sheets of tin and piles of wood are common refuges for a great variety of native frogs, skinks, dragons and invertebrates they feed on too, even small native mammals may use these for cover.

    Should you be concerned about having snakes close to your home, perhaps the scraps or things to be used can be relocated further away. Snakes can offer protection from the frequency and severity of rodent plagues, for anyone keeping chickens, quails, other aviary birds with scrap or spilled grain, horses and their feed, stored produce or even compost, these may lure rodents and boost their populations – so if you can bare to have a snake about, they often a pesticide free alternative and can pose fewer health risks than those of rodents, being ticks, fleas, pathogens and even electrical fire from chewed mains wiring.

  28. Apologies for the delay, have recovered my blog following a forced upgrade – my website outlived my website host!

    Based on the Central Coast, NSW, I live to help with these kinds of challenges, while snakes can be trapped, there are guidelines to ensure their (and your safety). Commercial traps are available, though it may be more practical to lease them from a researcher – as you’d only require them for a short amount of time and likely many of them to improve your chances of success.

    Researchers employ a few methods, including a drift fence and a bucket, or funnel traps, both of these would need to be checked regularly, to avoid the risk of heat stress, predation; by cats, dogs, or birds – especially kookaburras, with their formidable snag-obliterating beaks! Perhaps, and this is a bit cheeky, the simpler method, is technically not capturing the snake, but placing a sheet of tin down in your garden, which permits the snake to come and go as it pleases, however when inspected may be relocated with ease.

    The chances of another snake visiting are likely, becoming familiar with the snake species in your area can be a great idea – as many are harmless, it can be nice to have these reducing pest populations around your home and chemical free, at no cost.

    PS. To use traps legally, requires permits in many parts if not all of Australia, as snakes are protected fauna, however it is also illegal to kill snakes, so I admire your consideration for wanting to relocate the snake!

  29. That is a lovely snake you have there in your blog, however you have seen a Copperhead! Congratulations, a beaut specimen and species i’d love to see in the wild someday.

  30. Alison sounds like you have a lovely garden visitor, from doing snake rescues have seen a few Common Striped Marsh Frogs regurgitated, which is a reflex from the snake from being trapped while i’m on my way there. During a local rescue, even got to see the frog being consumed. Gruesome, but thankfully Marsh Frogs are notoriously prolific.

    Would love to see pics if you have any to share of your visiting snakes? especially of a climbing red belly!

  31. Hi Pete,

    I am trying to identify a new friend living in our NSW mid north coast property. I think it is a RBB – thin and long and pale pink belly, he swam across the river really quickly one day…yesterday I came face to face with him in a dark tin shed that was full of mice. Its just that some things i read said that they have a head that is not distinguishable from the body…but i think …before I ran away…this guy has a more pretty head like a python shape. does this mean it is something else? cheers Susan

  32. Sounds a lot like red belly visiting your property, they are capable swimmers, and will feed on mice and rats, as well as frogs.

    There are other species which can have a pink belly, including Small Eyed Snakes and Golden Crowned Snakes, though they’re more likely to be active at night, unless disturbed, and generally feed on other prey.

    If you can get a picture, i’m happy to help ID

  33. Hi Pete,
    We have recently found what we think are three baby red bellied black snakes in our yard on the central coast. They have been about 10-15 cm in length. We have three children and a dog. Firstly are they born this small and secondly is there normally a mum hanging around. I am terrified to walk down the side of the house in the case I will come face to the face with mother snake.

  34. Unfortunately and contrary to my wishes, yesterday my kids brought home a 20 to 25cm baby red belly black snake and it escaped in the house. We cant find it. How long will it survive?

  35. Depends on the conditions inside your home, cats, access to shelter, hiding spots and food.

    Assuming you live down this way, central coast, NSW, things have cooled down and a young snake with reasonable condition could easily make it a few months until the weather warms up and allows the snake to be more active.

    Should you have the snake in a heated room, its possible for the snake to be more active sooner, either way, being careful for where you step, and where you allow your pets to roam for now would be a sensible idea.

    Some tips which can help locate lost snakes, include talc on smooth surfaced floors like tiles or timber floors, showing the trails of where the snake might pass between hiding spots. And using plastic bags around the edges of the room, as they would other wise be silent, the rustling bags can alert you to their movements.

    Should you like a chat my number is 0417364620


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