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Join us for the Power of Parks forum at Launceston

22/07/2016

Tasmania Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) in partnership with the University of Tasmania is exploring The Power of Parks through a series of UTAS public forums celebrating the benefits that parks and reserves provide to Tasmania's overall identify.More

Shipwreck identified as the Viola

19/07/2016

Timber samples from a ship wrecked on Tasmania's East Coast nearly 160 years ago have been identified as the Canadian-built brig Viola.More

Prosecution for Stanley penguin deaths

15/07/2016

The Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS) and the Circular Head Council have conducted a joint investigation after 18 little penguins were found dead near a rookery in Stanley on the State's North-West coast last week.More

White-lipped snake, Drysdalia coronoides

White-lipped snake

White-lipped snakes are the smallest species of snake in Tasmania. They feed on small skinks and because of their shy nature and small fangs a bite from one of these snakes is an unlikely event. They are found throughout Tasmania where they are also called whip snakes.

Description

White-lipped snakes are slender snakes with a gently tapering tail. Tasmanian specimens are usually dark olive green to a green-grey on the back with a pale grey under-surface. Juveniles are often very dark and may have a deep orange underside. This species gets its name from a thin, white line bordered above by a narrow black line that runs along the upper lip. The head is narrow and rounded at the front. Tasmanian specimens reach a larger size than their mainland counterparts with a head and body length of 25 cm - 40 cm.

Ecology

These small snakes are active hunters, feeding mainly on small skinks, but occasionally taking frogs. They are a shy species, tending to hide at the approach of people. White-lipped snakes shelter beneath ground debris, rocks and logs. They can forage in winter on fine days since their small size allows them to heat up quickly.

Breeding

Ovulation occurs in late spring to early summer and 2-8 young are born live around March or April, at a time when baby skinks are most abundant. Tasmanian white-lipped snakes may only breed once every two years in the wild. When born these snakes have a head and body length of 8-11 cm. Tasmanian white-lipped snakes mature at about three years of age.

Distribution

White-lipped snakes are a sun-loving species generally found in heaths, grasslands and open woodlands from sea-level to about 1300 m. They are also found in south-eastern mainland Australia.

Status

Secure.

Threats

Domestic and feral cats kill white-lipped snakes. The laughing kookaburra, introduced to Tasmania, also takes a heavy toll on these small reptiles.

Fangs and poison

White-lipped snakes have small fangs and small venom glands. While they are unlikely to cause serious injury to healthy adults, some people may be sensitive to the venom and in case of a bite first aid should be applied and medical assistance sought. For further information see our Living with Wildlife web pages.