Rough-scaled Snake

Tropidechis carinatus

Rough-scaled Snake (Tropidechis carinatus) Rough-scaled Snake, Tropidechis carinatus.
Photograph by Richard Jackson.
Tropidechis carinatus distribution


The Rough-scaled Snake has a dull brown to olive brown back with irregular bands or blotches across the body.  The belly is cream, sometimes with a greenish tinge.  The scales on the back and sides each have a pronounced, central ridge (keel) running along their length.  The species grows to 1 metre.  Midbody scale rows 23; ventrals 160–185; anal single; subcaudals single 50–60.


Occurs in two widely separated, near-coastal populations.  A northern population occurs from Windsor Tableland to the Bluewater Range (north-eastern Queensland) and a southern population from Fraser Island (south-eastern Queensland) to Barrington Tops (New South Wales).


Lives in rainforests, moist forests, heaths, pastures and regenerated forests.


Active day and night.  This species may respond aggressively when disturbed.


A dangerously venomous species with strongly neurotoxic venom.  It is a ready biter and is responsible for at least one human death and several severe envemomations.  If bitten, apply first aid and seek urgent medical attention.  First aid procedure for any snakebite from the Australian Venom Research Unit.


Feeds mainly on mammals and frogs but birds and lizards are sometimes taken.


Mating occurs in spring and early summer.  This snake gives birth to live young and may produce as many as 19 per litter.  The newborn snakes are around 16 cm from the snout to the base of the tail (snout-vent length).

Similar species:

This species is most similar to the Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii), which has a similar pattern and keeled scales.  The Keelback (also known as the Freshwater snake) is non-venomous.  It has 15 rarely 17 midbody scales (vs. 23), divided (vs. single) subcaudals and usually has a pink flush on the sides of belly.  The Tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) can also have a similar appearance to the Rough-scaled snake.

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