Snake Catcher Brisbane

Keelback Snake

Species Profile

Keelback Snake

Tropidonophis mairii
Other common names: 
Freshwater Snake, Water Snake, Swamp Tiger

Significance to Humans:


Reluctant to bite but will if handled firmly. Generally strikes with mouth closed. Emits a strong odor from the cloaca if handled firmly.

General Description:

Variable colouring but typically various shades of grey, brown or olive with irregular, broken cross-bands or flecks of darker brown and flecks of paler creamy colour. Belly surfaces cream or pale rusty colour with dark scale edges. Feature is each scale has a distinct raised longitudinal ridge or ‘keel’, giving the whole snake an appearance of parallel ridges down length of body. Assumably confused with the highly venomous Rough-scaled Snake (Tropidechis carinatus) which lacks a loreal scale and whose keeling of the scales is less defined. Midbody scales at 15 (rarely 17) rows.

Average Length:

60cm but 80cm specimens have been recorded.

Habitat in SE Qld:

Common in moist localities within wet and dry forest environments. Persists along riparian margins and associated drainage lines well into farmland and suburban localities.

General habits:

Often associated with wetland and riparian areas but can persist in moist suburban backyards and parks.


Frogs, lizards and occasionally fish and tadpoles. Often noted for its ability to eat the introduced Cane Toad but only smaller toads and their tadpoles are generally targeted.

Local distribution:

Found throughout moist suburbs or areas where creeks and drainage lines, both natural and unnatural, persist. Often found in high numbers in suitable localities especially in the vicinity of marsh or dam habitats.

Around the home:

Forages beneath low vegetation, logs, woodpiles, water features & moist areas etc, where potential prey may be found. Has been noted to exploit small fish in constructed backyard ponds.

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