December 30, 2000
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OTHER NAMES: Down's Tiger Snake, Collett's Black Snake
DESCRIPTION: The adult colouration of the Pseudechis colletti may vary between a dark tan to almost black above with irregular cross bands. The colour of the cross bands may vary between cream to orange-red. The belly is the same colour as the bands on the dorsal aspect of the snake with faded dark spots or small blotches. Juveniles have the same colouration as the adults but a shade brighter and far more contrasting. They are quite smooth to touch, very similar to the Red-Bellied Black Snake P .porphyriacus or the Spotted Black Snake P. guttatus in texture.
Copyright 2000 Scott Eipper
SCALATION: The midbody scales are in 17 to 19 rows, ventrals numbering 205 to 240, posterior scales divided, anterior scales single and the anal scale is divided.
LENGTH: The size of a reproductive adult varies between male and females, Females grow to 2100mm but are sexually mature at 1240mm in length. Males can reach 2600mm but are sexually mature at 1320mm in length. Neonates at hatching are the largest for the Pseudechis genus at a 370mm in length.
VENOM: The venom of P. colletti is similar to the Papuan Black Snake P. papuanus venom. The venom is strongly cytotoxic and has haemolytic activity, Myotoxins are present and there are some neurotoxins in the mix as well. Slight necrosis is occasionally present. The LD50 is 2.36. The average venom yield is approximatly 30 milligrams. The dose of anti-venom for a from a P. colletti bite would depend upon the anti-venom, if you were using Black Snake anti-venom the initial dose would be 18,000 units, whereas if you using Tiger Snake anti-venom you would administer an initial dosage of 6000 units. The nineteenth most venomous snake in the world (Sutherland 1990).
RANGE AND HABITAT: Known from 49 different localities in Queensland. (Nonda, Richmond, Aramac, Julia Creek, Winton, Hughenden and Hamilton Downs Cattle Station are a few spots where they are fairly common.) They are listed as sparse (Ehmann 1992). Found in dry non-swampy areas, on plains including the barren black-soil type. Usually seen crossing roads at night or hunting in the deep cracks in the soil. The captive population is large in Victoria, with most elapid keepers, keeping or have kept this spectacular species.
THREAT DISPLAY: The threat display of Pseudechis colletti is very similar to the other members of its genus, making loud, short hisses and holding its flattened neck and forebody close to the ground in a low arc or sinuous wave. Even though a placid snake, if they pressed further they may make a series of strikes not meaning harm but as a warning. If pressed further they will bite. I have been bitten by a juvenile and it is not a pleasant experience. The bite caused swelling, a headache, nausea and vomiting,
dizziness and slight necrosis.
REPRODUCTION: The mating season is from August to October, hatchlings emerging from October to December. They are oviparous with a clutch from 7 to 14 eggs laid. The eggs of this are quite large, with a length of 55 mm and are 35 mm wide. From the moment of conception to when the eggs are laid it takes approximately 60 days and another 55 to 91 days for the eggs to hatch. Male combat has been observed in this species. The eggs of the P. colletti are quite hardy and can withstand large temperature fluctuations (220c to 320c). This species is a great captive, reproducing on a regular basis.
FOOD AND FEEDING: In the wild this species eats frogs( Crinia sp, Limnodynastes sp and Litoria sp.) and the plague rat (Rattus sp). In captivity they readily eat mice and rats, but juveniles may initially need to be feed on elvers or small goldfish and then eventually weaned on to pinky or fuzzy mice. In captivity most P. colletti tend to be aggressive feeders, as soon as they smell food, they strike at any perceived movement in the cage. I have found that they watch their prey before going in for the kill. They strike in a side-ways manner, latching on to what ever they hit, when they hit their target they tend to chew on their prey, pumping venom into the prey item. Then they "walk" along the prey (using its fangs) to the head to commence swallowing; this is enabled because of the snake's ability to separate its jaws. A word of warning there is known cases of cannibalism in this species.
OTHER PSEUDECHIS SPECIES:
SPOTTED BLACK SNAKE
FALSE MULGA SNAKE
Pseudechis (Cannia) pailsei
PAPUAN BLACK SNAKE
RED-BELLIED BLACK SNAKE
CAGING: I would recommend a lockable, top-opening cage of the following dimensions: 1200mm long by 600mm deep by 700mm high to house a pair of adults. The substrate used could be gravel or paper; gravel looks better than paper but is harder to generally keep clean than paper. I recommend paper, as it is easier to keep clean thus reducing the risk of disease. Cages should have a thermal gradient being 30 to 320c at the warm end of the cage and about 20 to 240c at the cool end. A pair of "blue globes"(40 watt maximum) at the warm end of the cage will produce the desired amount of heat, the globe must be hooked up to a thermostat to regulate the temperature inside the cage. Note the globes should be inside a box so the snake cannot burn itself. A log should be placed about 200mm from the light-bulb box so the reptile has a "hot spot". As the P. colletti is predominantly a diurnal species I believe it should have access to Ultra-Violet light as they would get it in the wild. So why not in captivity, this can be done by putting a fluorescent lamp wired into a timer set on 12 hours light, 12 hours dark. One type of tube I use is the "Repta-Glow" tube. Cage decorations should include a water bowl, 2 logs (one in the warm end the other in the cooler end) and a rough rock for shedding upon.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: I have been keeping snakes since the age of 4 but seriously since the age of 10. I am now 19 and love to breed elapids and other herp. My favourite genera are Pseudechis, Acanthophis and Oxyuranus.
REFERENCES: Charles.N, Whitaker.P, Shine.R. (1983) Captive reproduction in
an Australian elapid snake Pseudechis colletti, Herpetological Review 14(1)
Cogger.H (1992). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia, Reed Books, 775pp.
Ehmann.H (1992).Encyclopedia of Australian Animals-Reptiles, Angus and Robertson, 495pp.
Hoser.R.T (1989). Australian Reptiles and Frogs, Pierson, 238pp.
Longmore. R (1986) Atlas of Elapid Snakes in Australia, Australian Government Publishing Service, 120 pp.
Mirtschin.P, Davis.R (1991).Dangerous Snakes of Australia,Ure Smith Press,
Shine.R.(1991).Australian Snakes-a Natural History, Reed Books, 223pp.
Sutherland.S.K.(1990).Treatment of Snake-bite, Monitor 2(1) 11-16.
Weigel.J.(1993).Care of Australian Reptiles in Captivity,Reptile Keepers Association,144pp.
by clintox on July 12, 2006
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For many years Collett's snake was considered in the same clinical class as Australian red bellied black snakes; venomous bite but not very dangerous. This view has changed as a result of case experience. Collett's snake is clinically very similar to the mulga snake and routinely causes moderate to severe, life threatening, envenoming, including myolysis (muscle breakdown), anticoagulant-type coagulopathy (bleeding disorder), potentially secondary kidney and heart failure, and significant local pain and swelling. Antivenom of choice is CSL Black Snake Antivenom, starting dose 1 vial. It is a beautiful snake, but definitely dangerous and should be managed with great care to avoid bites.
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