Snakes Harmful and HarmlessTM


Myth

King Brown Snakes are blacksnakes, not brownsnakes!





Brian Bush and Kirk, the 'quiet' King Brown Snake (Pseudechis australis), in his younger days.


Australia's largest venomous snake


Media reports of snakes involved in snakebite in Australia generally refer to the species-group determined by use of the Venom Detection Kit (VDK), rather than the species. In Australia and especially Western Australia any mention of a brownsnake is mistakenly interpreted by the layperson as a reference to the largest member of the blacksnake group (Genus Pseudechis), the "king brown snake". The true brownsnakes (Genus Pseudonaja) however are the deadliest snakes on this continent and in WA are known by aboriginal names such as Dugite, Gwardar, Kabarda, Mungi, etc. Although the King Brown is a dangerously venomous snake attaining 3 metres (10ft), it has rarely been involved in human deaths. By the way, only two snakes on this earth have yielded more venom in the laboratory than the Aussie King Brown - these are the King Cobra (Ophiophagus hannah) and Gaboon Viper (Bitis gabonica).

Another "king brown", although not a snake, capable of inflicting damage is the "shearers' glass" - big bottles of beer!!! Recently (Dec. '98) a Northern Territorian lost an arm after experiencing too much of the contents of both! He was hospitalised for more than seven weeks and lost his left arm as a result of consuming too much beer and then attempting to catch a wild King Brown. This gentleman was quoted as saying, "I made the stupid mistake of grabbing it with my left hand because I was holding a beer in my right one."


A more recent shot of my mate Kirk - many people have commented that I resemble Michael Jackson. I can't see it personally - maybe it's just the microphone!


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