Dugite

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

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

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

Description[edit]

Dugites are coloured grey, green or brown. The colours vary widely between individuals and are an unreliable means of identifying species. The most distinguishing characteristic is the shape of the head, this is small compared to the neck, and grades imperceptibly into the body. They can grow up to 2m long.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

Members of the genus are found in southern parts of Western Australia and in remote coastal parts of western South Australia. They prefer sandy areas and like most snakes will not normally approach populated areas but may be seen if looking for food and water. In Western Australia they are currently common in bushland areas, but their numbers are diminishing.

Behaviour[edit]

Like other brown snakes, dugites are diurnal. The female dugite lays 10 to 20 eggs at a time.

Envenomation[edit]

Its venom 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 by the Elapidae family.[4] The descriptions of three subspecies are currently accepted, they are:[5]

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]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Identification of PLA2 and alpha-Neurotoxin Proteins in the Venom of Pseudonaja affinis (Dugite) Judge R.K., Henry P.J., d'Aprile A.C., Lynch D., Jelinek G., Wilce M.C.J., Wilce J.A. Source: Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology, Volume 181, Number 3, June 2002 , pp. 184-191(8) 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. (4) 9: 13-37
  4. ^ "Pseudonaja affinis". Integrated Taxonomic Information System. 
  5. ^ Pseudonaja affinis at the Reptarium.cz Reptile Database
  6. ^ Storr, G. M. 1979. Dangerous Snakes of Western Australia. Perth : Western Australian Museum Press 3rd edn., 24 pp.
  7. ^ Worrell, E. 1961. A new insular brown snake. Proceedings of the Royal Zoological Society of NSW 1958-59: 56-58 as (Demansia nuchalis tanneri: 56)
  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, W.A. : University of Western Australia Press. ISBN 978-1-920694-74-6
  • Storr, G. M. (1988) Dangerous snakes of Western Australia Perth, W.A. Western Australian Museum. ISBN 072447975
  • Storr, G. M. (2002) Snakes of Western Australia Perth, W.A. Western Australian Museum. ISBN 0-7307-1295-8
  • Swan, Gerry. (1995) A photographic guide to snakes & other reptiles of Australia Frenchs Forest, N.S.W. New Holland Publishers. ISBN 1-85368-585-2

External links[edit]