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Red-bellies, a stunning yet underrated elapid

Updated: Jun 24, 2022

#redbelliedblacksnake #australianelapid #elapid #beginerelapid #simplebeauty #venomoussnake #keepingredbellyblacksnakes #venomoussnakehusbandry #australianelapid #breedingredbelliedblacksnakes #redbellyvenom #snake #reptile #pseudechisporphyriacus The Red-bellied black snake is a great species of starter elapid for those wanting to get into the keeping of venomous snakes. This is because of the toxicity of the venom combined with the fact that Red-bellied black snakes are less inclined to bite defensively. We at Nature 4 You do not endorse the keeping of venomous snakes without suitable experience and only when you have the appropriate permits and facilities to care for the animal properly.


COMMON NAMES: Red-bellied Black Snake, Common Black Snake

SCIENTIFIC NAME: Pseudechis porphyriacus

PRONUNCIATION: sude-eck-is por-fie-ree-ah-kus

ETYMOLOGY: Pseudechis - false adder, porphyriacus - russet coloured

ADULT SIZE: 220cms


LIFE EXPENTANCY: Red-bellies have been known to live over 25yrs in captivity.

The Red-bellied Black Snake is native to Australia, found from the Adelaide Hills, South Australia, into southern Queensland. They are mainly found along the Great Dividing Range and south into Gippsland, Victoria. They penetrate quite a distance inland along river systems. Three separate populations occur in Queensland - one in the South East, a second further north around Mackay to Proserpine and the third from Townsville to Cooktown. Red-bellied Black Snakes are found in all but arid conditions, but are most commonly seen along watercourses such as creeks, dams and rivers, sheltering under rocks, logs, grass tussocks and man made debris. They are quite commonly encountered in yards where water is close by. In the wild they are opportunists - they will feed on just about anything. They have been recorded eating tadpoles, frogs, fish, dragons, skinks, legless lizards, geckos, mammals, blind snakes, other elapids and also colubrids. They are also cannibalistic. Red-bellied Black snakes are a stunning snake to look at, black above with the lower flanks cream to purple, but usually red. The brilliant markings are on the first half of each of the lowest two rows of mid-body scales. The underneath is equally distinctive, but is usually pale pink to cream. The trailing edge of the ventral scales is black to grey and the lower sides of the head and snout may be jet black, reddish brown or white. Red-bellied Black Snakes are dangerously venomous. The venom has strong coagulants, with cytotoxins and haemolytic activity. Their venom also contains neurotoxins, but these are quite weak. Red-bellies are quite commonly kept in captivity and readily available.

Red-bellied Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus in situ

A Red-belly Black Snake, Pseudechis porphyriacus in situ.


A single Red-bellied Black Snake needs a terrestrial enclosure at least 600mm wide X 1200mm Long X 450mm High. If you have the room to go bigger, we highly recommend it, as it will be utilized. The housing of juveniles is best done by housing them in plastic style enclosures with ventilation holes either drilled or melted with a soldiering iron. This plastic tub can be placed inside the larger enclosure. Plastic tubs are often utilised for small snakes as they are cheap, easy to clean and seal very well. This is important as a small snake is able to escape through very small gaps, which are often present in timber enclosures. Juveniles can be kept in smaller conditions but should be kept by themselves. Not only can cage-mates turn on each other, the unpredictability of their nature combined with the toxicity of their venom makes one snake per cage a lot easier and safer to deal with. We house our juv