Red-bellied Black Snakes (Pseudechis porphyriacus) are beautiful animals, and they are the snake species we see most often. The literature on snakes describes RBBSs as 'shy and inoffensive' and much less likely to bite than, for example, an Eastern Brown Snake. Nice to know, given their tendency to cruise about the vegetable garden!
The favourite prey of RBBSs are frogs. The snakes frequently hunt in water and so are often found near streams. Reportedly, they may even submerge completely for 20 minutes or more to escape a terrestrial predator.
We were therefore not completely surprised to see a Red-bellied Black Snake hunting in our newly-established frog pond last January. I had been hoping that they would pay the pond a visit!
But I was amazed to see how at home this snake was in the water! From my readings, I had imagined that an RBBS would hunt from the bank, perhaps hanging its head into the water occasionally. I had not imagined it would be such a proficient swimmer. It cruised about, sometimes hunting underwater and at other times probing around between the rocks at the water's edge, presumably looking for hidden frogs.
We managed to make these couple of videos without the snake being too bothered. It was only when we made a sudden movement that it left the pond, sliding out under the log and off into the undergrowth.
Interestingly, the frogs will have to contend with more than just the RBBSs. Both of our other large resident snake species - Eastern Brown Snakes and Tiger Snakes - include frogs and tadpoles in their diets. However, I gather that neither is quite as at home in the water as is the Red-bellied Black Snake.
Snakes drink when they need to. One November morning we noticed this beauty visiting the bird bath. The visit coincided with an extended period of dry weather, so perhaps there was insufficient moisture to be had elsewhere. Or perhaps, like many of the birds, the resident snakes are simply becoming accustomed to the convenient clean water supply.
The bath visitor above was big for a RBBS. Their average length is 1.2m, with 1.7m the reported maximum. This lovely individual appeared to be well over a metre and a half.