Brian Lazell holds aloft a 2.2m taipan found dead after being struck by a car on the Bauple-Woolooga Rd.
Brian Lazell holds aloft a 2.2m taipan found dead after being struck by a car on the Bauple-Woolooga Rd. Contributed

Snakes wake from slumber

A HERPETOLOGIST from Paterson, north-west of Gympie, warned residents of the region to be on the lookout for taipans, which are similar in appearance to eastern brown snakes.

Brian Lazell has a lifelong passion for reptiles and amphibians, and is in the process of obtaining his snake catcher's licence.

A 2.2m "brown" snake, found run over on the Bauple Woolooga Rd just north of Gundiah last week, turned out to be a taipan, and Mr Lazell said that with the warmer weather and increased snake activity, it was important people knew the difference, though both species are deadly.

The Gympie region is home to about 27 species of snakes, including the venomous coastal taipan, tiger snake, death adder, rough-scaled snake and eastern brown snake.

Taipans tend to be bigger than eastern browns, growing to an average of 2.6m but getting as big as 3m.

According to the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, taipans are light to pale brown above and paler on the sides. The snout and lower jaw is paler than the rest of the body, usually pale-yellow in colour. The head is rectangular (coffin-shaped) with a distinct neck. They have large eyes with a reddish-copper iris and round pupils.

Taipans will defend themselves aggressively if provoked, and contain enough venom to kill 20 men.

Eastern browns vary widely in colour, from light tan to almost black.

Their belly ranges from cream to orange with darker orange blotches. To add confusion, hatchlings may have a darker head and neck band or can have dark cross-bands along their entire length.

If provoked, the eastern brown will rear up and adopt an S-shape strike posture, and will strike if cornered.

It grows to an average of 1.5m. Both are mostly active during the day.