Species profile

Stephens' Banded Snake

Stephens' Banded Snake

Range and abundance

Stephens’ Banded Snake occurs in the coastal ranges of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, west to the New England Tablelands.

Description

A small to moderate sized snake (up to 1.2 m), usually strongly patterned, with a dark grey body striped with many narrow brown to cream coloured bands. Like the other two species in the genus Hoplocephalus, Stephens’ Banded Snake has a distinctive broad flattened head. It is pugnacious when provoked, flattening its head and rearing its forebody into an S-shape.

Ecology

Stephens’ Banded Snake occurs in a variety of forest types including rainforest, wet sclerophyll forest and dry sclerophyll forest with rocky outcrops. Rainforest populations are largely arboreal and shelter in large epiphytes, tree hollows and beneath loose bark. At Curramore they have been observed in Crows Nest Fern (Asplenium spp). In rocky country, populations use rock crevices and rock slabs for shelter. The snake has a varied diet, feeding on frogs, reptiles and small mammals. Individuals may spend up to five months inactive in a tree hollow during winter. Females give birth to live young during summer. One study found that adults can have home ranges up to 40 ha. 

Threats

Habitat loss, in particular the loss of large hollow-bearing trees as a result of wildfire, logging or land clearing are the major threat to this species. Additionally, because of its large home range and long periods of inactivity, Stephens’ Banded Snake is likely to be affected by loss of prey species.

 


What is AWC doing?

At Curramore, AWC is restoring forest cover to disturbed and cleared areas that have been invaded by lantana. AWC’s fire management program should also reduce the potential impacts of wildfires on rainforest and large hollow-bearing trees utilised by Stephens’ Banded Snake. AWC’s land management programs aims to maintain biodiversity on this sanctuary, thus maintaining numbers of prey species for the Stephens’ Banded Snake.

Did you know:

Despite being a small, slender-bodied snake, these snakes have a large head which allows them to maximise their arboreal performance while still being able to consume large prey items. Newly-born Stephens’ Banded Snakes have one of the largest relative head size of any Australian elapid snake.