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New lease of life for original lighthouse vents

15/05/2018

As part of the ongoing conservation of the Cape Bruny and Maatsuyker Island lighthouses, a team effort has been underway to restore the original bronze vents from the lighthouses' lantern rooms.More

Record visitor numbers at Highfield Historic Site

09/05/2018

Visitation numbers at Highfield Historic Site in Stanley have reached a record high, with 12,535 people visiting in the 12 months ending March 2018.More

Cradle Mountain shuttle bus tender awarded

08/05/2018

A new bus fleet featuring environmentally friendly technology and vehicles with improved accessibility and increased capacity will help to meet increasing visitor numbers following the awarding of the tender to McDermott Coaches.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.