Do you want to learn about the venomous snakes found in Papua New Guinea?
If so, you have come to the right place. In the article below, I have listed the MOST COMMON venomous snakes you can expect to see. If I missed any, please leave a COMMENT at the bottom of the page. 🙂
You’ll see that the venomous snakes in Papua New Guinea are very different from each other. They have different sizes, habitats, and even different types of venom. In addition, certain snakes are common to find living around people. For each species, you will find out how to identify that snake correctly, along with pictures, interesting facts, and RANGE MAPS!
8 Venomous Snakes that Live in Papua New Guinea:
*If you encounter any of these species, PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB! Venomous snakes are dangerous animals and should be left alone. The more you agitate them, the more likely you could get bitten. DO NOT RELY ON THIS ARTICLE to correctly identify a snake that has recently bitten you, as colors and patterns can vary widely. If you have recently been bitten, GO DIRECTLY to the nearest hospital to get help and to determine if the snake is venomous.*
#1. King Cobra
- Ophiophagus hannah
- Adults are 3-3.6 m (10-12 ft) long, but the largest specimens can grow up to 5.4 m (18 ft).
- Their coloring is olive green with black and white bands on the body.
- They have a prominent hood that opens in a defensive stance and a rounded nose.
The King Cobra is the longest venomous snake in Papua New Guinea.
Despite its size, this species is not considered particularly aggressive. It usually avoids humans and slinks off when disturbed. However, it is known to defend incubating eggs aggressively and strikes intruders rapidly. A single attack can deliver multiple bites.
Interestingly, the venom of hatchlings is as potent as the adults’. The babies are brightly marked, but these colors often fade as they mature. In addition, they are often nervous and alert, which makes them highly aggressive if disturbed.
Whether you encounter a juvenile or an adult, giving this dangerous snake a lot of space is recommended. Its bite results in excruciating pain, blurred vision, dizziness, fatigue, and even paralysis. If the bite victim doesn’t receive medical help, they can die from cardiovascular and respiratory failure within 30 minutes of the bite. Stay back!
#2. Common Seasnake
- Enhydrina schistosa
Also known as Beaked Sea Snake, Hook-nosed Sea Snake, Valakadeyan Sea Snake.
- Adults are 91-152 cm (36-60 in) long on average.
- Their pointy snouts hook downwards over the lips and have bigger scales than the rest of the body.
- Coloration is usually gray on top, with faint dark bars across the body. These snakes are whitish or yellowish on the sides and bottom.
The venomous Common Sea Snake loves to hang out in the tropical waters of Papua New Guinea.
This agile swimmer has some impressive skills. It can dive down to a jaw-dropping 100 meters (328 feet) and stay underwater for up to five hours! Like an oar, it uses its tail to navigate the water.
But watch out; the Common Sea Snake’s venom is twice as potent as many land-dwelling snakes. A single bite is enough to take down 50 humans; That’s some serious firepower! So, if you ever encounter one, remember to give it the respect it deserves and keep your distance.
Common Sea Snakes have quite the appetite when it’s time to dine. Their favorite meals include fish, shrimp, and catfish. Sadly, these captivating creatures face threats such as pollution, habitat loss, and getting tangled in fishing nets. They’re even hunted for their meat, skin, organs, and venom (which is used to create antivenoms).
#3. Peron’s Sea Snake
- Hydrophis peronii
Also known as Horned Sea Snake, Spiny-headed Sea Snake.
- This is a medium-sized snake with a slender body. It can grow up to 123 cm (48.4 in) from snout to vent.
- Its back is grayish, pale olive, or tan with narrow dark crossbands.
- It’s the only sea snake that has spines on its head.
Peron’s Sea Snakes reside in the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, staying close to sandy beds, lagoons, and coral reefs. Although it’s a rare species to find, divers in Papua New Guinea have occasionally spotted these venomous snakes skimming the water’s surface.
One cool trait of Peron’s Sea Snake is that it can shut its nostrils underwater and hold its breath for up to eight hours! In fact, these calm and docile creatures frequently fall asleep at the bottom of coral reefs, having no natural enemies in their environment.
Their diet consists of shrimps, gobies, and other small fish. Peron’s Sea Snakes prefer to hunt at night, using their venom to immobilize their prey. Luckily, they have small fangs, meaning they can only deliver small amounts of poison when they bite. Regardless, seek medical treatment if you get bitten!
#4. White-lipped Pit Viper
- Trimeresurus albolabris
Also known as Green Tree Pit Viper and White-lipped Bamboo Pit Viper.
- Males are 60 cm (24 in) long. They also have light-colored side stripes, which the females lack.
- Females are 81 cm (32 in) long.
- Their coloring is green on the upper body, with lighter shades of yellow, light green, or white on the belly and sides of the head.
The White-lipped Pit Viper is a dangerous venomous snake in Papua New Guinea.
Their preferred habitat is shrublands, agricultural areas, forests, and suburban gardens. These vipers are ambush predators that wait for small mammals, birds, and frogs to come by. When a meal gets close, they attack, injecting venom until the prey dies.
White-lipped Vipers are solitary and most active at night, which helps them to avoid hunting during high temperatures. They prefer cooler weather because it’s easier to use their heat-sensitive pits. These organs pick up the body heat of animals, but that heat can be hard to distinguish on warmer nights.
The White-lipped Pit Viper has hemotoxic venom, which can cause various symptoms. Some people report only mild irritation, but this snake’s bite can cause pain, blood clots, and death if left untreated.
#5. Banded Krait
- Bungarus fasciatus
- Adults are about 0.8 m (2.6 ft) long, but the largest recorded was 2.7 m (9 ft).
- Its body is covered in horizontal yellow and black bands. The underparts of the head are yellow.
- The head is black, with a broad shape, but not distinct from the body. Look for its distinctive keeled spine, which gives its body a triangular shape.
The Banded Krait’s venom contains neurotoxins, and though bites are rare, it’s best to avoid this venomous snake in Papua New Guinea.
Banded Kraits can be seen in diverse habitats, ranging from forests to agricultural lands and open countryside plains. They often live near human settlements, especially villages, because of the large supply of rodents and water.
Due to their love of water, they can most commonly be seen during rainy seasons. They are also nocturnal and usually hunt at night, mainly feeding on other snakes but are also known to eat fish, skinks, frogs, and snake eggs.
If harassed, they will hide their heads under their coils and do not generally attempt to bite. But, since they are more active at night, it can be easy to stumble upon one and wind up in danger.
#6. Golden Tree Snake
- Chrysopelea ornata
- Adults are 115-130 cm (45-51 in) long.
- Their coloring is green, with black cross-hatching and yellow, red, or gold accents.
- They have slender bodies and flat heads with defined necks.
Golden Tree Snakes hunt for bats, lizards, and small rodents during the day. This species is an arboreal snake that lives mostly on tree branches. It has great gliding ability and is an excellent climber, easily moving from tree to tree.
It is mildly venomous and uses its venom to subdue its fast-moving prey. The snake stalks after the prey once it’s delivered a bite and seizes it by the neck, which is crushed in its strong jaws. Because their venom is mild, a bite from this species can be irritating and painful to humans but is not life-threatening.
Golden Tree Snakes have become increasingly available in the exotic pet trade in recent years. Unfortunately, many imported specimens have heavy parasite loads, and the stress of captivity often leads to untimely death. It’s much better to observe this species in the wild since it does poorly in captivity.
#7. Oriental Whipsnake
- Ahaetulla prasina
- Adults grow up to 1.8 m (6 ft) long.
- This species has a slender body with a long, pointed snout.
- Their coloring varies from light brown to dull yellow-green and fluorescent green. Some individuals have a checkered pattern of light and dark green scales.
Oriental Whipsnakes are mildly venomous, but the toxins are not strong enough to hurt humans in Papua New Guinea. If you see one, observe from a respectful distance, but you don’t need to rush away.
The Oriental Whipsnake is one of the most colorful snakes in Papua New Guinea! Its impressive range of colors makes it difficult to recognize because individuals look so different from one another. However, the slender body and incredibly large, spade-shaped head should help with your identification.
This species is arboreal and usually lives in forest edge habitats such as parklands, rural agricultural areas, and wooded residential areas. It’s also a diurnal snake, so the best place to find one is sunbathing or hunting during the day. They eat small nesting birds, lizards, and tree frogs.
#8. Malayan Pit Viper
- Calloselasma rhodostoma
Also known as the Malayan Ground Snake, Malayan Moccasin, and Malayan Ground Pit Viper.
- Adults are 76-91 cm (30-36 in) long.
- Their coloring is reddish, pale brown, or grayish with a thin dark brown vertebral stripe.
- The scales around the mouth are pink or yellowish.
This venomous snake is known in Papua New Guinea for being bad-tempered and quick to strike.
Even though deaths are not common, the bite of the Malayan Pit Viper is excruciating, and the venom can cause tissue death around the bite wound. Many victims are left with dysfunctional or amputated limbs. Seek medical treatment immediately!
Malayan Pit Viper venom is useful for medical purposes despite its dangerous effects on the body. For example, Ancrod, an enzyme in this snake’s venom, can treat blood clots and helps prevent heart attack and stroke.
Do you want to learn about other animals in Papua New Guinea?
If so, check out these guides!
Which of these snakes have you seen before in Papua New Guinea?
Leave a COMMENT below!