A deadly eastern brown snake relocated at Cessnock this week was brown in name alone. Picture: Cessnock District Rescue Squad
A deadly eastern brown snake relocated at Cessnock this week was brown in name alone. Picture: Cessnock District Rescue Squad

Silver snake hiding deadly secret

It doesn't take much doing, but we now have a new reason to fear Australia's deadliest snake.

Despite its name, it turns out the eastern brown snake isn't always easy to identify by its brown colour, as volunteers in the NSW Hunter discovered this week.

Volunteers from the Cessnock District Rescue Squad relocated a silver eastern brown snake on Wednesday.

The striking silver-coloured snake might be easier to spot than brown snakes, but it's just as deadly.

The eastern brown snake is the second most venomous land snake in the world after the inland taipan, which is also native to Australia.

The striking silver colour hides a deadly brown secret.
The striking silver colour hides a deadly brown secret.

But the eastern brown was responsible for 65 per cent of snake bite deaths in Australia in the first 16 years of the millennium.

Eastern browns live up and down the highly populated east coast of Australia, while the inland taipan lives in less populous areas near the Queensland and South Australian border.

Of the 35 people killed by snakes in Australia between 2000 and the end of 2016, 23 died after being bitten by eastern brown snakes.

This deadly eastern brown snake was brown in name alone. Picture: Cessnock District Rescue Squad
This deadly eastern brown snake was brown in name alone. Picture: Cessnock District Rescue Squad

More than 70 per cent of snakebite deaths were men, and 20 per cent died after trying to pick up or kill the snake.

Eastern brown snakes are active during the day, move quickly and prefer dry, open habitats. They're particularly fond of agricultural areas, where livestock feed attracts the rats and mice they like to prey on.

Eastern browns regularly grow to around two metres in length but are more commonly around the one to one-and-a-half metre range.

An eastern brown snake in its more traditional colourway on the Gold Coast.
An eastern brown snake in its more traditional colourway on the Gold Coast.

If you're bitten by an eastern brown snake some of the effects can include diarrhoea, dizziness, collapse or convulsions, renal failure, paralysis, cardiac arrest and, in the most extreme cases, death.

While they are commonly brown in colour as evidenced by this week's relocation, eastern browns can be found in other colours including orange, yellow, grey and, of course, silver.

Have you ever come across an eastern brown snake? Let us know how you lived to tell the tale in the comments below.


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