Freshwater Snake AKA Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii)

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DESCRIPTION – Grey to olive brown interspersed with pale flecks and irregular dark banding, with dark bars between upper labial scales. Ventral surface cream or slightly pink-orange along the edges. Keeled body scales produce ridges along the body. Not to be confused with the deadly Rough Scaled Snake which can be nearly identical, lacking only loreal scales (between eyes and nasal scales). Grows to 75cm. 15 (rarely 17) mid body scales, 130-165 ventral, 50-85 sub ventral, anal single. Family: Natricidae.

DISTRIBUTION – Northern NSW (Grafton) to the Kimberly region of WA, into PNG and Indonesia. Coastal swamps, forests, flooplains, and waterways.

ECOLOGY – Cathemeral. Terrestrial/aquatic, feeds on frogs, lizards and fish. Keeled scales, presumably to grip slippery prey underwater. Some capability for eating the invasive and toxic cane-toad. Oviparous, lays 3-18 eggs.

VENOM – NON-VENOMOUS – Inoffensive and harmless, though easily confused with highly venomous species (see Rough Scaled Snake).

Updated November 2019 from Eipper, S. & Eipper, T. (2019) A Naturalists Guide To The Snakes Of Australia. John Beaufoy Publishing.