In recent walks (Nearing Derwent Bridge from Lake King William, and between the Florentine River and Wayatinah), I have been surprised to see two examples of one of Tasmania’s venomous snakes the White Lipped Snake, also known as the Whip Snake. What I saw was a delicate slender olive greenish brown snake with soft looking velvety skin. You can refer to the Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment’s site for more information.
The first snake was close to a metre in length and calmly meandered across the stony track, about a metre in front of me, as I descended towards the town of Derwent Bridge. The second snake was just under half a metre in length and was lying on the gravel road in the greenish shade – something made me look down and I realised I was only a couple of steps from standing on it. Naturally I stopped, apologised for my intrusion, stepped away to the other side of the road, and the snake in its own good time, calmly and slowly slid off into the bush away from me.
The length of my snakes is greater than that which the above government website suggests for the standard length. Mine were very slim but long.
These experiences have now made me doubt a ‘fact’ which I had always believed. The ‘fact’ is that snakes feel the vibration through the ground of something coming towards them and then disappear because they are fundamentally shy and do not seek confrontation. The website listed above suggests the Whip Snake is shy but my experience is at odds with their information.
A chat with another walker recently reminded me that wearing gaiters is a protection against snake bite on the lower legs. I had forgotten that important use – I was only thinking of wearing them in muddy conditions. If you don’t know what they look like, then the Paddy Palin website, for example, show a range of gaiter styles.
I hope I don’t get close enough to check if a snake has white lips or not. You comment that they are fundamentally shy is reassuring though.
I think I was most taken with the gorgeous velvety nature of their skin and not checking for the ‘mouth’.
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