New venomous snake species discovered in Australia: ‘They are active hunters that hunt prey during the day’
New species of venomous Australian snake identified The desert whip snake lives mostly in the outback
A team of university and museum researchers have identified a new species of venomous snake in the Australian outback.
The desert whip snake, also known as Dementia cyanocasma, inhabits the remote desert region of central Australia, the eastern part of the Northern Territory and Western Australia.
For decades, this snake was wrongly classified as a different species.
However, thanks to meticulous research led by Perth researchers Brad Merrian and Brian Bush, as well as University of Adelaide geneticists James Nankivell and Mark Hutchinson, unique genetic differences were uncovered through tissue samples, allowing for its accurate identification.
A new species of venomous snake, the desert whip snake (pictured), has been identified by a team of university and museum researchers in the Australian outback.
The snake is known to flee at the first threat of danger, but bites cause swelling and pain in victims but do not pose a serious threat to life.
Despite being venomous, the desert whip snake need not be feared, as it poses no significant threat to humans.
‘They are about 70cm long and they are very thin, which means their heads are very small and their fangs are very small for their size,’ explained Dr Hutchinson.
‘They will certainly bite if you try to pick them up or handle them, but there are no records of significant bites from these snakes.’
Their venom targets smaller prey, such as fast-moving desert lizards, allowing them to be active hunters during the day.
‘The great thing about whip snakes is that they move fast and have these big eyes,’ Nankivell told Nine.
‘They are active hunters who are out hunting during the day.’
Their striking bluish and copper colored bodies inspired their scientific name, ‘Dementia cyanocasma’, meaning ‘blue gap’.
Whip snakes are the most diverse group of venomous snakes in Australia, with slight color variation being the key differentiator among the 15 known species.
However, researchers believe that more species may await discovery, especially in the tropics.
‘We know about 15 species, but there are probably more species in the tropics,’ says Nankivell.