Do you want to learn about the types of snakes in the Northern Territory?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the most common snakes you can expect to see. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures and interesting facts!
You’ll see that the snakes that live in the Northern Territory are very different from each other. They range from incredibly venomous species to snakes that use constriction to immobilize their prey. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people.
13 COMMON types of snakes in the Northern Territory:
#1. Carpet Python
- Morelia spilota
Also known as the Diamond Python.
- Adults are 200-400 cm (79-157 in) long. Males are smaller than females.
- Their heads are triangular with rounded snouts.
- Their coloring can be olive, yellow, white, brown, or black. They often have blotches, dark borders, or a series of diamonds and streaks.
Lurking in trees at night, the Carpet Python is one of the most common snakes in the Northern Territory. It frequents forests and rocky lowlands, although occasionally, you might find one on the ground basking in the sun.
Rodents, lizards, frogs, and fledgling birds are some of this species’ favorite meals. Additionally, Carpet Pythons are known to eat small dogs and house cats. So, remember to keep your pets inside! These snakes immobilize their prey by coiling their powerful bodies around it and then swallowing it whole. But they can easily use their sharp fangs as a tool, even though they aren’t venomous.
Thankfully, Carpet Pythons are generally harmless to humans. In fact, they’re famous among exotic pet keepers. But be careful! Though usually mild-mannered, these snakes can still deliver a painful bite with fangs that curve backward.
#2. Eastern Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja textiles
Also known as the Common Brown Snake.
- Adults are 150-200 cm (59-79 in) long.
- They have rounded snouts and long, tapered tails.
- Coloration includes shades of brown or olive with pale undersides. Some specimens are dark gray.
This unassuming species is the world’s second-deadliest snake! In addition to being incredibly dangerous, Eastern Brown Snakes are very common in the Northern Territory. This combination means that this species regularly kills more people than any other.
Toxins in the Eastern Brown Snake’s venom will attack your circulatory system, causing internal bleeding and cardiac arrest. And don’t be complacent with juveniles because their venom packs an extra punch. It has less yield, but it’s more potent! Seek medical attention immediately if you’re bitten.
If you spend time in this species’ territory, keep your eyes on the ground and look for their raised heads. Eastern Brown Snakes often poke their heads out of the grass to survey their surroundings. This is how they find skinks, mice, and geckos to feed on. Despite their incredible speed, they prefer not to chase after prey. Instead, these clever snakes wait outside their victims’ burrows and corner them. Then, after a long day of hunting, they retreat into crevices.
#3. Black-headed Python
- Aspidites melanocephalus
Also known as the Rock Python, Tar Pot Snake, and Terry Tar Pot.
- Adults are 150-200 cm (59-79 in) long.
- They have muscular bodies that taper towards their tails.
- They have distinctive black-colored heads and necks as if dipped head-first into ink.
- Their bodies are usually shades of brown and gray with dark banding.
You can find this unique-looking snake in semiarid regions and coastal forests of the northern Northern Territory. Active at night, Black-headed Pythons rest in crevasses and dead wood in the daytime. They do this to hide from predatory birds.
The Black-headed Python’s diet consists of other reptiles, even cannibalizing its own species. Given a chance, they will even prey on highly venomous snakes! If you get too close, this snake will loudly hiss as a warning. Thankfully, it’s non-venomous and harmless to humans.
Did you know that dark colors are efficient at absorbing heat? Black-headed Pythons use this trait to their advantage. These pythons poke out their ink-black heads at daybreak to soak in the sun’s rays like a solar panel. The heated blood then travels to the rest of their bodies, keeping the snakes warm without leaving their burrows.
#4. Common Tree Snake
- Dendrelaphis punctulatus
Also known as the Australian Tree Snake, Green Tree Snake, Common Bronzeback, and Black Treesnake.
- Adults can reach 170 cm (67 in) in length. They are slim-bodied with tapering, whip-like tails.
- Their eyes are remarkably large with round pupils.
- Coloring varies from green to olive or black to blue. Their throats and bellies are pale tan or yellow.
The Common Tree Snake is native to the Northern Territory. But don’t blink, or you’ll miss this small and nimble snake! It thrives in temperate forests, wetlands, and suburban backyards.
With an appetite for frogs, small fish, and water skinks, Common Tree Snakes stay close to bodies of water. They hunt during the day and then rest inside tree hollows by night. They have excellent vision and are very alert, ready to run away at the first sign of danger.
Being small and non-venomous, the Common Tree Snake poses no threat to humans. It will, however, make itself appear bigger by inflating its neck as a warning to back away. Then, the snake might emit a strong odor to disorient you. Hold your breath!
#5. Mulga Snake
- Pseudechis australis
Also known as the King Brown Snake.
- Adults grow up to 200-250 cm (79-98 in) long.
- Females are unusually smaller than males.
- They have broad heads, rounded snouts, and bulbous cheeks.
- Their scales are two-toned: brown or copper on top with a contrasting pale underside.
The Mulga snake is the LARGEST venomous snake in the Northern Territory.
You can find this snake in many habitats, from damp tropical forests to dry sandy deserts. Hunting at dusk, it boldly preys on other snakes, including venomous ones!
Don’t go peeking in strange holes! Mulga Snakes take refuge in empty animal burrows and solid rock cavities. They can be relentless when they bite, latching onto unfortunate prey (or people). Their venom destroys blood cells. Bite victims can experience intense pain, severe bleeding, and even death if left untreated.
In terms of temperament, Mulga Snakes seem to differ by region. For example, specimens in the south are timid and will likely only bite as a last resort. On the other hand, Northern individuals can be aggressive and may instantly attack when approached.
#6. Children’s Python
- Antaresia childreni
Also known as the Banded Rock Python, Gefleckter Python, Stimsons Python, Large-blotched Python, Small-blotched Python, and Eastern Small-blotched Python.
- Adults are 100-150 cm (39-59 in) long.
- Their coloring is light brown with dark spots and blotches. Their bellies are paler in contrast, and they have a dark-colored streak passing through each eye.
- When hit by sunlight, their skin gives off a rainbow sheen.
The Children’s python is the second smallest python in the world. This night-dwelling reptile lurks in caves and coastal woodlands. Here, the Children’s Python spends its time hunting birds and lizards. Sometimes, you might find one basking in the sun or hiding inside hollowed logs.
Interestingly, Children’s Pythons can hang upside down from stalactites of cave ceilings. They are remarkably skilled at catching bats, speedily grabbing their prey mid-flight. Then, they grip the bats in a crushing hold before swallowing them whole.
Due to their small size, Children’s Pythons are quite popular as pets. Unfortunately, this snake is often taken from its natural habitat in the Northern Territory. Although they are prized as pets, it’s better to observe this species in its natural environment.
#7. Common Keelback
- Tropidonophis mairii
Also known as Mair’s Keelback.
- Adults are 50-75 cm (20-30 in) in length.
- Their bodies are gray, brown, or olive with cream-colored undersides. Some specimens have patterns of dark spots along their backs.
Despite their resemblance to other deadly species, Common Keelbacks are harmless to humans. You might see one swimming by if you linger around creeks and floodplains in the Northern Territory. If you try to approach, this snake will flee quickly into the safety of burrows or waterlogged plants.
Common Keelbacks are equipped with a variety of survival adaptations. First, they can adjust to being active at night or during the day, depending on seasonal temperatures. Next, their keeled scales help them move across slippery surfaces like mud and wet grass. Finally, they have sharp, angled teeth, which help them latch onto slippery prey.
The diets of Common Keelbacks include amphibians, fish, and lizards. Interestingly, they are one of the few animals that can feed on poisonous Cane Toads.
#8. Curl Snake
- Suta suta
Also known as the Myall.
- Adults are 40-60 cm (16-24 in) long.
- They have flat heads and broad snouts, and a stripe passes through their snouts, connecting both eyes.
- They are varying shades of brown, but their heads are marked with a dark-colored patch.
Curl Snakes in the Northern Territory inhabit forests and grasslands.
Watch where you’re walking! You never know when one is hiding among the leaf litter. These snakes forage for food at night, then retreat to the safety of rocky crevices when the day breaks.
These reptiles have an appetite for skinks, geckos, and legless lizards. As their name implies, Curl Snakes coil their bodies into a spring to protect their heads when they feel threatened. Unlike most snakes, females of this species give birth to live babies, normally in litters of 1-7.
A bite from the Curl Snake isn’t likely to cause serious damage. However, they are venomous, and little is known about their effects, so seek medical treatment if you get bitten. Thankfully, these snakes are usually calm and tend to avoid humans.
#9. Olive Python
- Liasis olivaceus
- Adults can exceed 400 cm (157 in) in total length.
- They are heavy-bodied with fairly short tails and small scales.
- Their coloring is uniformly brown to olive, with paler bellies.
The Olive Python is one of the largest snakes in the Northern Territory.
They tend to live close to sources of freshwater. In fact, this land-dwelling snake is also a capable swimmer! You might also find this species in rocky gorges and coastal woodlands.
Foraging for food at night, Olive Pythons like to camp out near watering holes. Here, they ambush unwary ducks, wallabies, and monitor lizards. Impressively, larger individuals can even take down crocodiles! But, like all pythons, they’re non-venomous, so they kill their prey by wrapping them up in a crushing grip.
Despite their fearsome size and appearance, Olive Pythons are actually gentle creatures. Experienced snake handlers describe them as curious and friendly. Regardless, it’s best to observe caution when walking in their habitat. They have lightning-fast reflexes, and their bites can be painful. Watch your fingers!
#10. Orange-naped Snake
- Furina ornata
Also known as the Moon Snake.
- Adults grow up to 40 cm (16 in) long. They are slender-bodied snakes with flat heads and round snouts.
- Their coloring is brown and gray, growing paler near their undersides.
- They have black faces and a bright orange patch at the base of their heads.
Keep your eyes open! This snake hides among fallen leaves in the Northern Territory in forests and scrublands. The Orange-naped Snake can also survive in deserts, hiding deep within abandoned burrows. When night falls, you might find one chasing down geckos or creeping toward sleeping skinks.
When confronted, Orange-naped Snakes raise their heads high off the ground, imitating a cobra. However, they aren’t quite as intimidating. Some specimens even have a poor sense of balance, tumbling down clumsily into a heap when they elevate their heads too high.
In general, Orange-naped Snakes are timid creatures. They don’t usually bite, preferring to strike with their mouths shut if you get too close. Though they’re venomous, not much is known about the potency of their venom. So, keep your distance and seek medical attention if you get bitten.
#11. Water Python
- Liasis fuscus
Also known as the Australian Water Python and Brown Water Python.
- Adults grow up to 300 cm (118 in) long.
- Their heads are flat and fairly elongated, rounding towards the snout.
- The body coloring is olive to dark brown, with a yellowish underside.
Water Pythons are abundant in lowland swamps and river plains. Their beautiful iridescent scales reflect a rainbow of colors when hit by light. This snake in the Northern Territory is fabled to be the source of the story of a “Rainbow Serpent” believed to have brought life to Australia’s valleys and rivers.
These snakes are fantastic swimmers. Upon sensing danger, they escape into the water, where most predators can’t chase after them. These nocturnal pythons roam near the water’s edge to prey on unsuspecting rodents, waterfowl, and baby crocodiles.
The Water Python is non-venomous, which makes it famous in the exotic pet industry. However, accounts differ in terms of their temperament. Some specimens are mild-mannered, while others can be quick to bite. Pythons drive a lot of force behind their bites, so you should be cautious if you come upon one!
#12. Western Brown Snake
- Pseudonaja mengdeni
Also known as the Collared Brown Snake and Mengden’s Brown snake.
- Adults grow to 120 cm (47 in) long.
- They are slim-bodied snakes with short heads and round snouts.
- Morph #1: Dull yellow to orange, with dark-colored heads.
- Morph #2: Brown or yellowish. Their heads are pale in contrast.
Western Brown Snakes live in dry woodlands and stony plains in the Northern Territory.
They hunt small lizards, birds, and mammals in broad daylight. Since these reptiles are adept at climbing trees, unattended bird eggs aren’t safe either!
These hawk-eyed hunters can seize their prey in a burst of speed. They hold on with sharp teeth, then wrap around the unlucky victim as the venom does its work. During periods of hot weather, Western Brown Snakes shift to hunting in the nighttime.
A threatened Western Brown Snake will raise its forebody into an S-shaped stance, mouth agape. When it does, it’s best to back away. Though the bite is painless and the fang marks undetectable, the venom is highly potent! Symptoms include internal bleeding, kidney failure, and even death if left untreated.
#13. Yellow-bellied Sea Snake
- Hydrophis platurus
Also known as the Pelagic Sea Snake.
- Adults grow to 70 cm (28 in) in length.
- They have narrow heads, long snouts, and flattened flipper-like tails.
- Their coloring is bright yellow on the belly and deep brown or black above.
Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are spotted swimming in tropical waters across the Indian Ocean. Stay vigilant while on beach walks, as you’ll almost certainly see this snake in the Northern Territory! They make breeding grounds out of free-drifting masses of sea kelp.
Yellow-bellied Sea Snakes are frighteningly agile while underwater. Capable of swimming backward or changing direction in a split second, they can catch any passing prey. They also stay motionless for hours to trick fish into coming close. In open waters, they sometimes gather and hunt by the thousands.
The Yellow-bellied Sea Snake’s bite is highly venomous. Victims suffer muscle pain and drowsiness, or even complete paralysis and death in the worst cases. Most bites happen on beaches, where the snakes sometimes wash ashore.
Do you want to learn more about animals in the Northern Territory?
Check out these other guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in the Northern Territory?
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