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Keelback Snake

Tropidonophis mairii

VENOM: Non-venomous, bites are unlikely to require medical attention.
SIZE: Growing to around 110cm (Avg 60cm)

LOCAL DISTRIBUTION:  The Keelback or ‘Freshwater Snake’ is considered a common snake species throughout the Gold Coast, Brisbane and Scenic Rim regions.

HABITAT: Keelback Snakes are most commonly encountered within wetter habitats such as wetlands and swamps where frogs are most abundant. In suburban environments the Keelback Snake is fond of anywhere with still-lying water and is frequently encountered bathing in backyard ponds and drainage ditches.

GENERAL DESCRIPTION: The Keelback is primarily olive, brown or grey ranging in darkness between individuals. Black, speckled-like scalation extends the entire body of the snake forming irregular patterning. As their name suggests, the scales of this species are heavily keeled giving them a coarse texture and appearance. The underbelly is normally cream in colouration however in particularly vibrant individuals a red tinge can be observed along the flanks.

ADDITIONAL NOTES: These snakes are completely harmless and deter potential predators by excreting a foul-smelling musk when threatened. Keelbacks are the only known species of snake in Australia to be able to withstand poisoning from Cane Toads. After each mating season, pregnant females will give birth to a clutch of between 5-12 eggs.


It’s important to realise that many species of snake can vary in colour, pattern and size. This often makes it very hard to make a positive identification of the snake. You should always assume that a snake is highly venomous, keep your family and pets at a safe distance and call a Gold Coast snake catcher.