Snake ID, Coober Pedy

Discussion in 'Reptile and Amphibian Identification' started by becker09, Sep 28, 2014.

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  1. becker09

    becker09 New Member

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    Hello,

    I am from Germany and right now here in Australia on a roadtrip through the outback.
    A few days ago I saw a snake on a gravel road whilst driving.

    I have no experience with identifying snakes and limited internet here so I would be really happy if you could help me.

    At the moment I can just upload a picture from my smartphone.
    I took some with my camera as well but the zoom didn't allow me to take close shots. And I also didn't get to close as I didn't know what it is. I may upload additional photos when I come home.

    Additional information:

    Size: hard to say for me but if I had to guess I would say around 1.5 m

    Colour: grey-brown, head more dark

    Place: about 7 km nort east of Coober Pedy on the way to the dog fence, very dry area with very few vegetation.

    Conditions: around noon, about 30 degrees, very windy and cloudy

    Behaviour: lying on the gravel road as we passed by, as we got of the car and it noticed us it slowly went off.

    Thanks for your help
    Jan

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  2. becker09

    becker09 New Member

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  3. baker

    baker Well-Known Member

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    Inland taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus). Head shape, body shape, location and location. Very blurry pictures but nothing has a head like your last picture in that area. Very lucky to see a wild one of these. Lots of herpers go out looking for them and don't have any luck at all.
    Cheers Cameron
     
  4. eipper

    eipper Very Well-Known Member APS Veteran

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    hi Jan

    while I tend to agree with Cameron that it's most likely an Inland Taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus, would like to see the other images you have of it from your camera. Can you please send them to me at scott_eipper@hotmail.com when you return home.

    thanks
    Scott
     
  5. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Welcome Jan. You've come to the right place to get a snake ID.
    At first glance, the snake you've seen and photographed looks like a member of the brown snake genus (Pseudonaja sp.). However, I agree that it looks more like an Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus) because of the head shape and colour. i.e more elongate and darker than the body.
    It would be good to see some better photos before giving you a more positive ID.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2014
  6. becker09

    becker09 New Member

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    Thank you all for your answers. I will try to give you some better pictures tomorrow but don't expect to much from then :)

    It never came to my mind that it could be an inland taipan because I didn't know that there is a population of them near Coober Pedy. I just knew that it lives in those remote QLD areas.

    Thanks again
    Jan
     
  7. Alexbee

    Alexbee Guest

    that's an awesome find.. id love to see one.. if you ever wanted to see deadly snakes on your trip this is as deadly as they come
     
  8. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    No worries Jan. We're happy to help, especially with such a significant find as this. 8)
    The apparently isolated population of taipans around Coober Pedy are a relatively recent discovery.
    The population is not shown on the distribution maps of even some fairly recent texts, so it's no surprise that you didn't know about them not being found there.
    Here's a distribution map from AROD that includes the Coober Pedy population: [​IMG]

    There is a paper by Read about this significant discovery.
    'A major range extension and new ecological data on Oxyuranus microlepidotus (Reptilia: Elapidae)' http://www.biodiversitylibrary.org/page/41264024#page/157/mode/1up

    If this find turns out to be an Inland Taipan, as we strongly suspect, then you should lodge the find.
     
    Last edited: Oct 2, 2014
  9. becker09

    becker09 New Member

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    Hello again,

    unfortunately my other pictures turned out to have an even worse quality.
    But luckily a friend who was with me on the trip also took some pictures.

    I uploaded those for you in my Dropbox as they both have more than 10 mb.

    Number 1 is not very interesting as it gets blurry again when you zoom in.
    Number 2 should allow you to zoom in whilst the quality stays more acceptable.

    I hope that this one can help :)

    Thanks
    Jan

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/48843931/Snake Coober Pedy/Snake Coober Pedy 1 pm.JPG

    https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/48843931/Snake Coober Pedy/Snake Coober Pedy 2pm.jpeg
     
  10. AllThingsReptile

    AllThingsReptile Very Well-Known Member

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    Yeah, the pics above are pretty conclusive hahah, id say Inland Taipan for sure
     
  11. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for providing better quality pics. That makes a big difference, as I can see individual body scales now; although I still can't see the temporal scales*, which is one of the most clear cut distinctive differences between Oxyuranus sp. and Pseudonaja sp. that I know of (if the animal is in hand or if close-up pics are available).
    * for those interested, Oxyuranus sp. have relatively large temporal scales (O. temporalis has one and O. microlepidotus has two), as well as relatively large post-temporal scales. Whereas in Pseudonaja mengdeni, which is the next closest contender for this snakes ID (the local brown snake) the temporal scales are relatively small and the post-temporal scales small and fragmented or absent and like regular body scales.
    However, despite not being able to see the temporal scales well enough to get a positive ID using this distinguishing characteristic alone, I feel that there's enough to go on using other features to make a positive ID for Inland Taipan (Oxyuranus microlepidotus).
    Principal amongst these is the head shape, and although morphological differences in head shape are a bit difficult to describe I'll try. The Inland Taipan has a relatively longer and squarer looking snout, compared to P. mengdeni, which has a relatively shorter, more bluntly rounded snout and a relatively smaller, more petite looking head.
    Other features that can be used to positively ID this snake as an Inland Taipan are incapsulated within the scientific name Oxyuranus microlepidotus. 'Oxyuranus' roughly translates to meaning long, sharply pointed tail, which this snake possesses. (Pseudonaja sp. tails are relatively shorter and seem to taper more rapidly). 'microlepidotus' means small-scaled, referring to the relatively small scales or rather relatively higher number of midbody scales. From memory, Oxyuranus sp. all have more than 21 mid-body scale rows and O. microlepidotus has 23. Whereas, Pseudonaja mengdeni only has 17 (or sometimes 19). You can clearly count at least ten mid-body scale rows on one flank in the recent photos (x2 to get the approx. mid-body count).
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2014
  12. bigguy

    bigguy Very Well-Known Member

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    I found a DOR one about 150 Klms east of Windorah. Positive ID and a bit out of that distribution map
     
  13. andynic07

    andynic07 Very Well-Known Member

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    1.5m is a bit big for a mengdeni as well [MENTION=23802]Bushman[/MENTION] .
     
  14. becker09

    becker09 New Member

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    Hello again,

    I have one more question:

    Is it also possible to use the eyes to distinguish Pseudonaja mengdeni
    and Oxyuranus microlepidotus ?

    On www.arod.com.au all the pictures of Pseudonaja mengdeni show an orange ring around the pupil, a feature that my picture does not show.
     
  15. Lachie3112

    Lachie3112 Not so new Member

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    I'm not an expert in snakes but I believe most venomous species have similar eyes, and therefore can't be used for identification.
    Although it's not really that reliable or recommended , In my view you can distinguish them by their colour, with inland taipans generally being dark and subdued in colour, whereas all the images I've seen of the western brown snake tend to have more bolder and brighter colours.
     
  16. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Cogger has Pseudonaja mengdeni at 2 metres total length, which is also the average adult length of Oxyuranus microlepidotus.
     
    Last edited: Oct 3, 2014
  17. eipper

    eipper Very Well-Known Member APS Veteran

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    I am happy to confirm that is an inland taipan Oxyuranus microlepidotus. That last image via Dropbox is conclusive.
     
  18. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for confirming that Scott. Just out of curiosity, what features are you basing that on?

    That's an interesting observation Jan and a difference that I hadn't noticed. Whilst it's not a difference mentioned in the textbooks and keys that I've looked at, there does seem to be some observable difference. Whilst both species have a very dark iris, Pseudonaja mengdeni has a reddish-orange ring around the pupil. It's a subtle difference but I think that you may be right there. Well observed. I should just mention that you usually need several criteria to make an ID with, especially with similar looking species like these two.

    Congratulations on a great find. 8)
     
  19. GBWhite

    GBWhite Well-Known Member

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    Hi Bushman,

    I think you'll find that the in Wilson and Swan's Fourth Edition of "A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia" their description of O microlepidotus includes "a dark iris". Their description of P mengdeni includes "iris dark broken reddish/orange ring around pupil".

    Ingram's Brown Snakes (Pseudonaja ingrami) also possess a dark iris (without a reddish or orange ring) and happen to occur within the range of O microlepidotus but unlike the snake in these photos they have 17 mid body scales.

    George.
     
  20. Bushman

    Bushman Very Well-Known Member

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    Thanks George. You're absolutely right. I've just found it in my third edition (can't find my 4th). The iris colour does seem to be a valid and documented difference then.
    Not that I recommend that folks look closely into the eyes of either of these snakes in order to tell them apart. :)
     
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