Black-bellied Swamp Snake or Marsh Snake Hemiaspis signata was found by OFF member Matt Allison on the road near the entrance to Myra Wall garden at Oatley Park on 13 February 2016. The snake appeared to have been run over. Report was made by Liz Cameron our Secretary and past Australian Museum educator.
This is believed to be a rare sighting for Oatley park Matt Mo’s paper (on the OFF website) didn’t record the species in his surveys in Lime Kiln Bay between 2006 and 2014 but noted that a specimen was collected in Oatley in 1996; according to Glenn Shea (2010) that was the last record in the Australian Museum’s database, for the species in the St George area (Shea, G M 2010. The suburban terrestrial reptile fauna of Sydney – winners and losers. pp. 154-197 in The Natural History of Sydney; edited by Dan Lunney, Pat Hutchings and Dieter Hochuli for Royal Zoological Society of NSW). Glenn listed the Swamp Snake as one of the ‘Suburban Battlers’ in regard to persisting in the Sydney region.
The Atlas of Living Australia records that the 1996 specimen from Oatley was donated to the Australian Museum by Oatley resident and staff member at the Museum and donated another swamp snake in 1986.
Average total length is reported at 60 cm; today’s specimen was 45 cm long, so it wouldn’t be fully grown.
Species occurs in coastal and near-coastal areas of eastern Australia from far northern Qld to the south coast of NSW. Usually found in low-lying marshy areas but also found on dry rocky ridges and wooded beach dunes. Normally active during the day and at dusk, but may be active at night in hot weather. It gives birth to live young (from 4 to 20 in a litter).
The snakes feed largely on skink lizards and frogs. A bite from a large specimen may be very painful but not generally regarded as dangerous. (This information from Cogger 2014. Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia; 7th edition; CSIRO Publishing).
Report By Liz Cameron