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Taxonomic changes to Pseudonaja (Reptilia: Elapidae)


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Posted by Richard Wells on March 24, 2002 at 05:06:13:

Hello All,

Here is the second part of my Pseudonaja revision which appeared in the Astralian Biodiversity Record, 2002(7): 1-48

Best Regards from


Richard Wells


Mengden's Brown Snake
Pseudonaja mengdeni Wells and Wellington, 1985

Previously known as the 'pale head, grey nape morph' or 'pale-headed' form, of Pseudonaja nuchalis, recent genetic studies have proven its distinctiveness from that species, necessitating the re-instatement of the original name given it - thus it should now be called Pseudonaja mengdeni.
Diagnosis: This is another medium to large but relatively slender snake with a small narrow head not distinct from the neck, the eye is large with a round pupil and a pale iris. As presently understood, this species has a distinctive chromosomal morphology (of the 2n=34 karyotype). Some features of this species' scalation are: nasal entire and in contact with preocular, no suboculars, postoculars 2 (occasionally 3), preocular higher than wide and separated from frontal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, rostral higher than broad, usually extending back onto the top of the snout, temporals 1+2, canthus rostralis very strong, frontal shield longer than wide, and about as wide as a supraocular, body scales smooth in 17 (rarely 19) rows at mid-body, ventrals 180-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. The base body colour can vary from tan-brown through to pale yellow or orange. There is a strong 'herring bone' pattern on the posterior two-thirds of the body caused through the arrangement of darker reddish-brown scales. The head and neck is usually pale brown (snout is paler) with a slightly darker interocular area. The neck is greyish-brown to darker brown, with a dark narrow row of black or very dark brown scales often forming a sharp boundary (sometimes in a 'V' shape) immediately anterior to the nape patch. Juveniles have a similar colour and pattern to the adults, with the exception that the darker interocular area and nape markings are more pronounced. It attains a maximum size of around 1.5 m in total length, but usually mature specimens are around 1.2 m.
Notes: Pseudonaja mengdeni is distributed over a wide area of arid and semi-arid Australia, ranging from central and northern Queensland, north-western New South Wales, most of the Northern Territory, northern and western South Australia, then into adjacent south-eastern Western Australia, and the far west coast of Western Australia from about North-West Cape to Perth. An apparently isolated population also occurs in the vicinity of Broome in north-western WA as well. The principle habitat is open woodland, but it is also known from semi-arid shrubland and grassland on plains country. This is an oviparous species, but nothing is known on its clutch-size, although it could be expected to lay upward of 12 eggs in a clutch. It feeds mainly on lizards and small mammals. This snake is highly venomous and has almost certainly been the cause of a number of fatalities in the past, so urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite. Protected under the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) but not listed in that State as a Threatened Species in any of the Schedules of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995). Also protected under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972), the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998), the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). Although regarded as mostly a very common species over its range, the conservation status of this species is unknown, and it may be considered as potentially vulnerable in some areas due to its apparently fragmented distribution and specialised habitat requirements. The name 'mengdeni' honours American herpetologist, Gregory Mengden.

Northern Brown Snake
Pseudonaja nuchalis Gunther, 1858

Diagnosis: A large and relatively slender snake, the Northern Brown Snake has a small narrow head not distinct from the neck, large eye size with a round pupil and a pale iris of variable colouration, usually reddish. Based on the original description as well as the available Type Specimen that is consistent with that original description, Pseudonaja nuchalis actually represents one of the rarest of the known 'variations' of the complex. In Pseudonaja nuchalis sensu stricto the head, neck and throat is jet black. The body has a base colour of yellowish-orange to orange-brown, and there is a series of about 6 broad black bands that do not encircle the body. Each black band has an irregular edge formed by darker brown and black scales, which tends to make the lighter interspaces grade into the darker bands (in other words, not create a clear line of demarcation between the bands). The snout is usually lighter brown, with a slightly darker brown patch on the head; there may be a cluster of brownish scales on the neck also. Ventrally, creamish, with obscure brown edging, becoming darker posteriorly. Some features of this species' scalation are: nasal entire and in contact with preocular, no suboculars, postoculars 2 (occasionally 3), preocular higher than wide and separated from frontal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, rostral higher than broad, usually extending back onto the top of the snout, temporals 1+2, canthus rostralis very strong, frontal shield longer than wide, and about as wide as a supraocular, body scales smooth in 17 (rarely 19) rows at mid-body, ventrals 180-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. Attains a maximum size of around 1.5 m in total length, but usually mature specimens are around 1.2 m.
Notes: As presently defined, Pseudonaja nuchalis is restricted to the far north of the Northern Territory, centred on Arnhem Land and the adjacent coastal areas. Rather than being the widespread and abundant species it is usually assumed to be, Pseudonaja nuchalis as now defined, is probably endangered because of its very restricted known distribution. The principle habitat occupied by this species is open savanna woodland and grassland in association with sandstone outliers of the Arnhem Land escarpment. It is an oviparous species, producing up to 22 eggs in a clutch. The diet is unknown, but it likely feeds mainly on lizards and small mammals. This snake is highly venomous and its bite has likely resulted in several fatalities to date, so urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite. Protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998). The conservation status of this species is unknown, but this species may be considered as potentially vulnerable or even endangered due to its limited distribution and specialised habitat requirements. The name 'nuchalis' refers to the neck region (nuchal area) and presumably draws attention to the neck colour and pattern.

Placidaserpens gen. nov.

Type Species: Demansia guttata Parker, 1926 [New reptiles and a new frog from Queensland. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, (9) 17: 665-670] Diagnosis: As presently defined, a monotypic genus of large snakes in the family Elapidae occurring in Australia and readily identified by the following combination of characters: large robust species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck; head with moderate canthus rostralis; eyes relatively small with round pupils; iris reddish-yellow, with inner margin thinly bordered with white; nasal and preocular scales in contact; suboculars absent; 1 primary temporal; supralabials 6; infralabials 6; body scales smooth in 19 or 21 rows at mid-body; ventrals 190-220; anal divided; subcaudals 45-70 divided. The maximum size attained is around 1.0 m. in total length, but 0.6 m is an average-sized adult. Populations in the western part of its range (NT) have mainly 19 mid-body rows, while those from the east in central Qld have 21 and these may represent different species. Etymology: The name ‘Placidaserpens’ means ‘peaceful snake’, in recognition of the relatively inoffensive nature of some specimens. (but be very careful when handling this species, because they will readily attempt to bite if disturbed). Content: Placidaserpens guttatus(Parker, 1926).

Speckled Brown Snake
Placidaserpens guttatus (Parker, 1926)

Diagnosis: A large robust species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck. The head has a moderate canthus rostralis and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and a reddish-yellow iris, with a the inner margin thinly bordered with white. The body colour can be almost any shade of brown, but usually tan or orange-brown or yellowish-brown is a common base colouration, with the lower (hidden) edges of each dorsal scale black, and black peppering on the head and neck, with an occasional specimen having a dark brown nuchal blotch. The black-edging of the dorsal scales results in a speckled appearance to the body if the skin is even slightly distended. In another variation, some individuals are strongly marked with up to around 12 black, reddish-brown or dark brown bands or blotches on the body and tail; these markings can vary in width, from being very narrow and barely visible, to being very broad and dominant over the dorsum. Speckling can also occur between the bands as well. Ventrally pale whitish in some, but usually creamish-orange to orange with occasional darker orange spotting or blotching on the ventrals (but this is less distinct posteriorly); the throat and labials are whitish. Juveniles are much lighter than adults and lack any dark colouring to the head and neck. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 19 or 21 rows at mid-body (Populations in the western part of its range (NT) have mainly 19 mid-body rows, while those from the east in central Qld have 21), ventrals 190-220, anal divided, and subcaudals 45-70 divided. The maximum size attained is around 1.4 m. in total length, although specimens around a metre would be mature; 0.75 m is an average-sized adult.
Notes: Known from a wide area of central and western Queensland and the adjacent north-eastern Northern Territory and north-eastern South Australia. This species inhabits Astrebla grasslands with scattered low shrubs on black-soil plains; also found in low rocky hills adjacent to grasslands. Very little has been recorded on the ecology of this abundant species. It is known to be an egg-layer, but the clutch-size is unknown. It feeds mainly on frogs and small lizards and has been known to take small mammals in captivity. This is mainly a diurnal species that shelters in deep earth cracks, particularly in the vicinity of watercourses or ephemeral waterholes. When aroused this nervous snake will raise its head and neck up from the ground, then flatten its neck to form a distinctive cobra-like hood. It is however usually hesitant to bite even if provoked, but extreme care should be shown in any case. This is a highly venomous species and its bite has likely resulted in a number of fatalities, so urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite. Although the conservation status of the species is poorly known, it is protected under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972), the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). It is nevertheless very common within its habitat.

Notopseudonaja gen. nov.

Type Species: Cacophis modesta Gunther, 1872 [Seventh account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, (4) 9: 13-37]. Diagnosis: As presently defined, a monotypic genus of small snakes in the family Elapidae occurring in Australia, readily identified by the following combination of characters: very small, slender species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck; weak canthus rostralis when an adult (but not in the juvenile); eyes relatively small with round pupils; iris orange-brown; nasal and preocular scales in contact; suboculars absent; 1 primary temporal; supralabials 6, infralabials 6; body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body; ventrals 150-183; anal divided; subcaudals 33-56 divided. Maximum size attained is around 0.6 m. in total length, but 0.45 m is an average-sized adult. Content: Notopseudonaja modesta (Gunther, 1872); Notopseudonaja ramsayi (Macleay, 1885); Notopseudonaja sutherlandi (De Vis, 1884).

Western Ringed Snake
Notopseudonaja modesta (Gunther, 1872)

Diagnosis: A very small, slender species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck. The head has a weak canthus rostralis when an adult (but not in the juvenile) and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and an orange-brown iris. The mature body colour may be either light tan, light reddish-brown, yellowish-brown, or greyish (usually) all over, the body mostly being without pattern other than a faint trace of a nuchal band, and a fine speckling of the body caused by some of the dorsals being marked with paler bases and slightly darker centres. Juveniles and immatures however, are brightly coloured (usually reddish or orange-brown) with about 4 to 12 bold narrow black transverse bands. The top of the head has a black patch which extends down the side of the head to include the eyes and part of the supralabials, and there is another black patch on the nape. Ventrally, usually creamish or white with occasional specimens flecked with orange on the ventrals. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 150-183, anal divided, and subcaudals 33-56 divided. The maximum size attained is around 0.6 m. in total length, but 0.45 m is an average-sized adult.
Notes: Found over a large part of arid and semi-arid north-western and central Western Australia and adjacent north-western Northern Territory. Occurs in a wide range of arid and semi-arid habitats from gibber deserts, sand deserts, tropical savanna, open woodland, shrubland, sandplains, and rocky ranges. Usually found in association with sandy soils in densely vegetated shrublands and open woodlands with Triodia grass ground cover. This is an oviparous species, producing up to 11 eggs in a clutch. Feeds mainly on lizards. Although this is mainly a diurnal species it may also be encountered during warm evenings. They may found in the burrows of other animals or beneath or associated with low vegetation, such as Triodia tussocks and deep litter under shrubs. They can also be found active at night during warm weather. When aroused, it will raise its head from the ground and place the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. Its small size has lead to the belief that this is virtually an innocuous species. Although this is reportedly only a moderately venomous species and although its bite has not resulted in any fatalities to date, I believe that urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite, particularly from a large specimen. It would be sensible to exert caution when handling this snake until the nature of its venom is better known. Although usually inoffensive, even rather placid despite being moderately disturbed, they will try to bite if given the opportunity. Protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998) and the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended). Regarded as common. The name 'modesta' means 'modest', and presumably refers to the plain colouration and patterning of the adult of this species.

Southern Ringed Snake
Notopseudonaja ramsayi (Macleay, 1885)

Diagnosis: A very small, slender species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck. The head has a weak canthus rostralis when an adult (but not in the juvenile) and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and an orange-brown iris. The mature body colour may be either light tan, light reddish-brown, yellowish-brown, or greyish (usually) all over, the body mostly being without pattern other than a faint trace of a nuchal band, and a fine speckling of the body caused by some of the dorsals being marked with paler bases and slightly darker centres. Juveniles and immatures however, are brightly coloured (usually reddish or orange-brown) with about 4 to 12 bold narrow black transverse bands. The top of the head has a black patch which extends down the side of the head to include the eyes and part of the supralabials, and there is another black patch on the nape. Ventrally, usually creamish or white with occasional specimens flecked with orange on the ventrals. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 150-183, anal divided, and subcaudals 33-56 divided. The maximum size attained is only around 0.5 m. in total length, but 0.3 m is an average-sized adult.
Notes: As herein defined it is found over much of arid and semi-arid eastern and southern Australia, ranging from far western New South Wales, south-western Queensland, through most of central and northern South Australia, most of the southern part of the Northern Territory and into south-eastern Western Australia. Occurs across a wide range of arid and semi-arid habitats from gibber deserts, sand deserts, sub-tropical woodland, temperate semi-arid open woodland, shrubland, sandplains, and rocky ranges. Usually found in association with sandy soils in densely vegetated shrublands and open woodlands with Triodia or Plectrachne grass ground cover. Oviparous, producing about 6 eggs in a clutch. Feeds mainly on lizards. This is mainly a diurnal species that seeks shelter in lizard burrows beneath or associated with low vegetation. They can also be found active at night during warm weather. When aroused, it will raise its head from the ground and place the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. As in the case of N. modesta caution should be exerted in the case of any bite from this species. Its small size has lead to the belief that this is virtually an innocuous species, and its overall inoffensive behaviour makes one think that it is virtually harmless. However, lizards are quickly subdued with its venom and I think that it would be wise to seek urgent medical attention in the event of a bite - particularly from a large specimen. It would be sensible to exert caution when handling this snake until the nature of its venom is better known. Protected under the New South Wales National Parks and Wildlife Act (1974) but not listed in that State as a Threatened Species in any of the Schedules of the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act (1995). Also protected under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972), the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998), the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). Regarded as common. The name 'ramsayi' honours 19th century Australian herpetologist Edward Pierson Ramsay.

Northern Ringed Snake
Notopseudonaja sutherlandi (De Vis, 1884)

Diagnosis: This is another very small, slender species with a small head that is barely distinct from the neck. It has been in the past regarded as a synonym of Pseudonaja nuchalis by Cogger et al (1983) but this is now known to be incorrect (see Mengden, 1985 who showed that it was actually part of the modesta group). The head has a weak canthus rostralis when an adult (but not in the juvenile) and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and an orange-brown iris. The mature body colour may be either light tan, light reddish-brown, yellowish-brown, or greyish (usually) all over, the body mostly being without pattern other than a faint trace of a nuchal band, and a fine speckling of the body caused by some of the dorsals being marked with paler bases and slightly darker centres. Juveniles and immatures however, are brightly coloured (usually reddish or orange-brown) with about 4 to 12 bold narrow black transverse bands. The top of the head has a black patch which extends down the side of the head to include the eyes and part of the supralabials, and there is another black patch on the nape. Ventrally, usually creamish or white with occasional specimens flecked with orange on the ventrals. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 17 rows at mid-body, ventrals 150-183, anal divided, and subcaudals 33-56 divided. The maximum size attained is only around 0.45 m.
Notes: Found over a wide area of semi-arid tropical northern Australia, ranging from eastern central Northern Territory and most of northern Queensland. It occurs across a wide range of semi-arid habitats from tropical savanna, open woodland, and shrubland. Usually found in association with sandy soils in densely vegetated shrublands and open woodlands. This species is oviparous in its reproductive habits, and feeds only on lizards. This is mainly a diurnal species that seeks shelter in earth cracks, or beneath or associated with low vegetation and ground litter. They can also be found active at night during warm weather. When aroused, it will raise its head from the ground and place the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. Its small size has lead to the belief that this is virtually an innocuous species, and its overall inoffensive behaviour makes one think that it is virtually harmless. However, I think that it would be wise to seek urgent medical attention in the event of a bite - particularly from a large specimen. It would be sensible to exert caution when handling this snake until the nature of its venom is better known. Although usually inoffensive, even rather placid despite being moderately disturbed, they will try to bite if given the opportunity. Protected under the Territory Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act (1998) and the Qld Nature Conservation Act (1992). Regarded as common.

Dugitophis gen. nov.

Type Species: Pseudonaja affinis Gunther, 1872 [Seventh account of new species of snakes in the collection of the British Museum. Annals and Magazine of Natural History, (4) 9: 13-37].
Diagnosis: A genus of medium to large elongate snakes of the family Elapidae occurring in south-western Australia, and readily identified by the following combination of characters: medium-sized to large and slender species with a small head that is not distinct from the neck; head with strong canthus rostralis; eyes relatively small with round pupils and a blackish iris, with a thin yellow or orange ring around the pupil; nasal and preocular scales in contact; suboculars absent; 1 primary temporal; supralabials 6; infralabials 6; body scales smooth in 19 (rarely 17 or 21) rows at mid-body; ventrals 190-230; anal divided; and, subcaudals 50-70 divided. Content: Dugitophis affinis affinis (Gunther, 1872); Dugitophis affinis exilis (Storr, 1989); Dugitophis affinis tanneri (Worrell, 1961).

Dugite
Dugitophis affinis affinis (Gunther, 1872)

Diagnosis: This is a medium-sized and slender species with a small head that is not distinct from the neck. The head has a strong canthus rostralis and the eyes are relatively small with round pupils and a blackish iris, with a thin yellow or orange ring around the pupil. The body colour can be any shade of brown, but usually dark olive or greyish-brown is a common base colouration. Some of the dorsal scales are coloured black, and these black scales can be sparsely scattered over the dorsum, or clustered together in patches without any particular pattern being created. The blotched form (known as the "Kabada') can be so heavily marked that it is almost black with only scattered sections of a lighter tan-yellow base colour evident, while in others the dark blotching is more evenly distributed over the body. Ventrally, usually whitish with incomplete edging on the margins of the ventral scales. Juveniles usually have a black patch on the top of the head and another on the neck, with a greenish-brown to light yellowish body colour, and a faint darker herring-bone pattern overlying the base colour, and a white belly with scattered brownish-red spotting. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 19 (rarely 17 or 21) rows at mid-body, ventrals 190-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. The maximum size attained is around 2.0 m. in total length, but 1.2 m is an average-sized adult.
Notes: Known only from the south-western and southern coastal parts of Western Australia, and adjacent south-west of South Australia. This species occurs in a wide variety of vegetation communities, ranging from wet sclerophyll forest, rocky areas, coastal dune shrub-heath, semi-arid woodland, usually on sandy soils. It is known to be an egg-laying species, producing up to 30 in a clutch (sometimes two clutches are layed in a season) between November and February. Eggs may hatch between February and May, and juveniles can be around 200 mm at hatching. Feeds mainly on lizards and small mammals, but will also eat other snakes on occasions. This is a diurnal and terrestrial species that shelters in holes in the ground or under logs or rocks. When aroused, it often raises its head from the ground and places the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. Sometimes this species is quite inoffensive and can be rather placid even when moderately disturbed. However, on other occasions it will not hesitate to bite if given the opportunity, so extreme care should be shown. This is a highly venomous species and its bite has resulted in a number of fatalities, so urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite. Protected under the SA National Parks and Wildlife Act (1972) and the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended). Common wherever it occurs. The name 'affinis' means 'related to', and was bestowed because of its alleged similarity in appearance with Pseudonaja nuchalis.

Rottnest Island Dugite
Dugitophis affinis exilis (Storr, 1989)

Diagnosis: This is a smaller and more slender form than the nominate subspecies. It has a small head that is not distinct from the neck, with a medium canthus rostralis. It has small eyes with round pupils and a blackish iris, with a thin yellow or orange ring around the pupil. The colour of the dorsal and ventral areas is black. Juveniles from Rottnest Island are very similar to the juveniles of the nominate form. They usually have a black patch on the top of the head and another on the neck, with a light brownish to yellowish body colour, and a faint darker herring-bone pattern overlying the base colour, and a white belly with scattered brownish-red spotting. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 19 (rarely 17 or 21) rows at mid-body, ventrals 190-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. The maximum size attained is around 1.0 m. in total length, but 0.6 m is an average-sized adult.
Notes: Restricted to Rottnest Island in south-western Western Australia, where it occupies semi-arid temperate shrublands and heath communities on sandy soils. Its reproductive biology is poorly known, although it is egg-laying, producing up to 20 in a clutch. The diet comprises mainly small lizards but small mammals may also be taken. This is a diurnal and terrestrial species that shelters in holes in the ground or under rocks. When aroused, it will raise its head from the ground and place the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. This snake is usually inoffensive, but they will not hesitate to bite if given the opportunity, so extreme care should be shown. It is a highly venomous snake and although there are no records of fatalities, urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite, because this is most certainly a potentially dangerous subspecies. The nominate subspecies has caused a number of fatalities. Protected under the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended). Status unknown, but this subspecies may be considered as potentially vulnerable due to its limited distribution and specialised habitat requirements.

Tanner's Brown Snake
Dugitophis affinis tanneri (Worrell, 1961)
Diagnosis: This race is also smaller and more slender than the nominate subspecies. It has a small head that is not distinct from the neck, with a medium canthus rostralis. It has small eyes with round pupils and a blackish iris, with a thin yellow or orange ring around the pupil. The body colour is usually dark chestnut-brown without spotting. Ventrally, usually whitish with incomplete edging on the margins of the ventral scales. Some significant features of the scalation are: nasal and preocular scales in contact, suboculars absent, 1 primary temporal, supralabials 6, infralabials 6, body scales smooth in 19 (rarely 17 or 21) rows at mid-body, ventrals 190-230, anal divided, and subcaudals 50-70 divided. The maximum size attained is around 2.0 m. in total length, but 1.0 m is an average-sized specimen.
Notes: Restricted to two of the islands of the Recherche Archipelago in south-western Western Australia (Boxer Island and Figure-of-Eight Island), where it occupies semi-arid temperate low woodland and shrub-heath communities with limestone on sandy soils. It is believed to produce up to 20 eggs in a clutch, and feed mainly on small lizards. This is a diurnal and terrestrial subspecies that shelters in holes in the ground or under rocks. When aroused, it will raise its head from the ground and place the neck in an 'S' shape, while hissing loudly. As the nominate subspecies has caused a number of fatalities, and the species overall is highly venomous, urgent medical attention should be sought in the event of a bite from this particular subspecies. Protected under the WA Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 (as amended). Status unknown, but this subspecies may be considered as potentially vulnerable due to its limited distribution and specialised habitat requirements. The name 'tanneri' honours Australian herpetologist Charles Tanner (1911-1996)


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