Snakes

Many snake species are found throughout the Northern Territory (NT). 

This includes the highly venomous desert death adder and the common and harmless children’s python. 

Snakes are active and generally breed in warmer months. 

Snakes rely on thermoregulation, the process of absorbing energy from the sun's warmth. 

You will often see snakes basking on exposed rocks or branches during cool weather.

Native snakes are protected in the NT so you should not interfere with them without a permit. Read more about wildlife permits.

It is illegal to kill a snake unless the snake is within 100m of an occupied building, or if you can prove it is absolutely necessary to kill or injure the snake to avoid death or injury to a person or domestic animal. 

Feeding

All NT snakes are carnivorous and eat mammals, birds, reptiles, frogs, fish and invertebrates. 

Large pythons, such as the olive python, can grow up to 4m long and feed on wallabies and small feral pigs. 

Snakes do not need a lot of food and many will only eat every couple of weeks.

Threats

Most snake species in the NT are common and have few natural predators. 

Illegal smuggling of snakes for the pet trade threatens the survival of several Australian snakes, through the loss of species populations and spread of disease. Read how to report a wildlife crime.

Urban snakes can be victims of cat and dog attacks or may be run over by lawnmowers or cars. 

Some less dangerous snakes may also be killed by people who believe they are dangerous.

You should report an injured snake. Do not touch it.

Interactions with people

Snakes take advantage of reliable food supplies, heat sources and protected habitats around homes and towns.

Snakes can cause a lot of panic, especially if they enter homes.

Snakes are shy animals and their first response is to move away and hide when disturbed. Most snake bites happen when people try to kill or handle a snake.

Snake problems near your home

There are a number of things you can do to reduce snake problems, including all of the following:

  • keep your garden tidy and maintained by:
    • cutting long grass
    • clearing rubbish
    • storing wood and metal sheeting elevated off the ground
  • control rats and mice around your home
  • build snake-proof aviaries, fowl yards and other small pet cages
  • wear long pants and thick boots when walking in long grass
  • never try to capture a snake - report it
  • keep your dog and cat safe
  • contact a registered snake removalist - you may have to pay a fee.

Seek medical attention immediately if you are bitten by a snake.

Common snakes in NT

For more information about common snakes in the NT get the following brochures:

Venomous snakes in NT

All of the following snakes are venomous, but not all are common:

  • brown tree snake
  • western brown snake
  • mulga or king brown snake
  • speckled brown snake
  • common/eastern brown snake
  • Macleay's water snake
  • orange-naped snake
  • secretive snake
  • bockadam
  • northern small-eyed snake
  • yellow-faced whip snake
  • little spotted snake
  • myall or curl snake
  • olive whip snake
  • black whip snake
  • Papuan whip snake
  • red-bellied black snake
  • blue-bellied/spotted black snake
  • southern death adder
  • northern death adder
  • desert death adder
  • Pilbara death adder
  • fierce snake
  • taipan
  • Collett's snake.

You need a permit to keep venomous snakes in the NT.

It is illegal to keep the red-bellied black snake, Collett's snake or the Pilbara death adder in the NT.

Non-venomous snakes in NT

All of the following common snakes are not venomous:

  • woma
  • golden tree snake
  • water python
  • slaty-grey snake
  • olive python
  • keelback
  • children's python
  • carpet python
  • black-headed python.

You need a permit to keep non-venomous snakes in the NT. 

You do not need a permit to keep a children's python if you have obtained it legally.

Last updated: 06 January 2017