Tiger Snakes are associated with fresh water habitats, although reticulated parks and gardens increase their potential range. I have even found a newborn baby one in my garden in a dry and hilly part of Duncraig. As the name suggests they are usually striped with yellow bands and belly against a black or brown body. When startled the head and neck are flattened, somewhat like a cobra. This is a thick-bodied snake reaching up to 1.2metres in length. Head scales are large and quite distinct from most other snakes within their range.
Although highly venomous, and despite their name and reputation, Tiger Snakes would rather avoid confrontation. Initially as a defensive strategy they may lunge with a loud hiss, it’s generally a warning to stay back rather than a sign of real aggression.
Sheltering and hunting in thick vegetation, amphibians are the preferred diet, but they will also consume geckos, skinks, small mammals and birds. Mating occurs in the spring and the young snakes are born live in litters of 15 to 30.
Interestingly in a population on Carnac Island WA, the adults feed almost entirely on seagull chicks. Many of the snakes in this offshore habitat are blinded by the adult gulls protecting their young.
A Perth reptile relocater has been envenomated twice by this species. The first time was a bite and he chose to wait and see if symptoms showed, foolishly assuming it was a dry bite. When he bled from his penis he decided to get to hospital.
Please, even if you only think you may have been bitten apply the pressure bandaging and phone an ambulance without delay. That is not a symptom I ever want to hear about again.
The second envenomation he received was post capture of a snake. His colleague told me that the feisty snake had bitten the catching bag. And once the snake was safely contained in a tube they jumped back in the car, one of them holding the bag and not the handle with his bare hands. A short while later whilst driving along he felt sick. They stopped, open the door and he vomited, felt weird and then collapsed. He had received secondary envenomation from the cloth bag through cuts on his skin.
A short stay in hospital and he has fully recovered. In the first case he did receive antivenom in the second he didn’t need it but had kidney complications. Please be careful out there. Poor planning and reluctance to wear full personal protective equipment can be as dangerous as the most venomous snake. Post capture envenomations are remarkably common.