Furina ornata — Moon Snake
Some other names for this species:
I hadn't seen any snakes in a week when I found this pretty elapid crossing the road at night. That's way too long to not see a snake in Australia. This little guy tried to make up for it by putting on a show. When I tried to get into a good position for a photo, it would lift its head the front part of its body as high as it could go, and then a little higher, causing it to topple over awkwardly. This would leave it in some bad position relative to my camera, so I'd maneuver into a better spot, and then the snake would repeat its little act. I heard behavior this described somewhere as "cobra-like", but cobras always look so menacing and in control of the situation, and this snake just looked clumsy.
This is the largest of the four Moon Snakes I saw on the road that evening. I haven't found any definitive answer to the question of why they are called Moon Snakes, but Bush et al say that it could be related to the orange mark on the neck, which is sort of crescent-shaped, or it could be related to these snakes being active on nights with a bright moon, or maybe both, or maybe neither. In any case, they are small and cute and although they are venomous, they are "extremely reluctant to bite and can be considered harmless" (according to Bush et al. I didn't test this theory.)
This snake was on the shore of a waterhole, and sand was sticking to its body, so I'm pretty sure it had recently been in the water. This species is a specialist in eating sleeping skinks, so I'm not sure what it was doing there.
- Bush, B., Maryan, B., Browne-Cooper, R., Robinson, D. 2007. Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia
- Cogger, H. G. 2014. Reptiles & Amphibians of Australia, Seventh Edition
- Wilson, S. and Swan, G. 2017. A Complete Guide to Reptiles of Australia, Fifth Edition