Dugite

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Dugite
Dugite on a walking path crop.jpg
A dugite on a walking path
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Elapidae
Genus: Pseudonaja
Species: P. affinis
Binomial name
Pseudonaja affinis
Günther, 1872
subspecies
  • Pseudonaja affinis affinis
    Günther, 1872
  • Pseudonaja affinis exilis
    Storr, 1989
  • Pseudonaja affinis tanneri
    (Worrell, 1961)

The dugite /ˈdjuːɡt/ (Pseudonaja affinis) is a species of venomous, potentially lethal, snake native to Western Australia, a member of the family Elapidae.

Caution sign for dugite snakes in the coastal dunes near Swanbourne Beach in Swanbourne, Western Australia.

Description[edit]

The dugite is coloured grey, green, or brown. The colours vary widely between individuals and are an unreliable means of identifying the species. The most distinguishing characteristic is the shape of the head, which is small compared to the neck, and grades imperceptibly into the body. A dugite can grow up to 2 m (6 ft 7 in) in total length (including tail).

Geographic range[edit]

P. affinis is found in southern parts of Western Australia and in remote coastal parts of western South Australia.

Habitat[edit]

The dugite prefers sandy areas, and like most snakes will not normally approach populated areas, but may be seen if looking for food or water. In Western Australia it is currently common in bushland areas, but its numbers are diminishing.

Behaviour[edit]

Like other brown snakes, the dugite is diurnal.

Reproduction[edit]

The female dugite lays 10 to 20 eggs at a time.

Envenomation[edit]

The venom of P. affinis is potentially one of the most lethal in the world, causing coagulopathic and procoagulant effects.[1] Dugites generally avoid biting humans, but risks of encounters rise when they are most active during the mating season through October and November.[2]

The last death attributed to a dugite was in 1993 after an elderly woman died in Spearwood, Perth.[2]

In January 2011, a seven year old Perth boy was bitten and temporarily paralyzed after a dugite entered his bedroom and wrapped itself around his arm while he slept. After seeking medical attention quickly, he made a full recovery.

Taxonomy[edit]

The species was first described by Albert Günther in 1872.[3] It is a member of the genus Pseudonaja, sometimes referred to as brown snakes, contained in the Elapidae family.[4] The descriptions of three subspecies are currently accepted; they are:[5]

Nota bene: A trinomial authority in parentheses indicates that the subspecies was originally described in a genus other than Pseudonaja.

Conservation status[edit]

Dugites are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 1950 and to kill or injure one attracts a fine of up to A$4000.[8]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Judge RK, Henry PJ, d'Aprile AC, Lynch D, Jelinek G, Wilce MCJ, Wilce JA. 2002. Identification of PLA2 and alpha-Neurotoxin Proteins in the Venom of Pseudonaja affinis (Dugite). Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology 181 (3): 184-191. (Publisher: Academic Press).
  2. ^ a b Dugites love to live near people ABC, 10 August 2004. Cached by Google.
  3. ^ Günther A. 1872. Seventh Account of new Species of Snakes in the Collection of the British Museum. Ann. Mag. Nat. Hist., Fourth Series 9: 13-37 + Plates III-VI. (Pseudonaja affinis, new species, pp. 35-36 + Plate IV, Figure C).
  4. ^ "Pseudonaja affinis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  5. ^ Pseudonaja affinis at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database.
  6. ^ Storr GM. 1979. Dangerous Snakes of Western Australia, Third Edition. Perth: Western Australian Museum Press. 24 pp.
  7. ^ Worrell E. 1961. A New Insular Brown Snake. Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales 79: 56-58, Figures A-C. (Demansia nuchalis tanneri, new subspecies).
  8. ^ Dramatic increase in snake attacks on pets Narelle Towie, PerthNow, 2007-11-26. Retrieved 2008-03-13.

Further reading[edit]

  • Bush, Brian et al. 2007. Reptiles and Frogs in the Bush: Southwestern Australia. Crawley, Western Australia: University of Western Australia Press. 302 pp. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6.
  • Storr GM. 1979. (Reprinted 1988). Dangerous Snakes of Western Australia. Perth, W.A.: Western Australian Museum. 24 pp. ISBN 0724479759.
  • Storr GM. 1989. A new Pseudonaja (Serpentes: Elapidae) from Western Australia. Records of the Western Australian Museum 14 (3): 421-423. (Pseudonaja affinis exilis, new subspecies).
  • Storr GM. 2002. Snakes of Western Australia: Revised Edition Perth, W.A.: Western Australian Museum. 309 pp. ISBN 0-7307-1295-8.
  • Swan, Gerry. 1995. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Australia Frenchs Forest, New South Wales: New Holland Publishers. 144 pp. ISBN 1-85368-585-2.

External links[edit]