The Dugite Pseudonaja affinis ( Gunther 1872)
The Dugite is a member of the brown snake family of which there are 7 recognized species.
They are a relatively large (maximum size 1.8 metres) terrestrial elapid and are often encountered in the south western country side and are normally diurnal.
They are extremely variable in coloration and can be all shades of olive and browns. Specimens often have speckling of darker pigment through partial areas of their body scales this can vary from being sparse, clustered to form patchy areas and sometimes be to a degree that they over ride the overall body base colouration and in these cases they can appear extremely dark or nearly completely black.
The ventral area is normally of whitish grey to light brown with scattered blotches of orange colouration throughout.
As far as scalation data goes, this species has a mid body scale row count of 19 and in odd cases, 17 to 21, 190 to 231 ventrals, has a divided anal plate, divided subcaudals with a total ranging from 50 to70, a single temporal scale and lack sub-oculars.
Generally speaking the Dugite is a relatively shy snake and prefers to retreat when disturbed. Sometimes without too much propagation however (or if harassed), they can vigorously defend themselves and typical of browns snake, display the classic “S” pose and usually hissing before delivering an accurate strike.
Dugites should be treated with extreme caution as bites have resulted in fatalities.
There are two recognized sub species of the Dugite, P.a. exilis which is only found on Rottnest Island W.A and P.A tanneri which inhabits some Island of the South western coast of W.A.
Both sub species are generally of darker colouration and are of smaller maximum size. P.a exilis is thought to be potentially threatened due to their limited distribution.
Typical of most brown snake species, the Dugite occupies a variety of habitat niches and highly adaptable. They inhabit semi arid woodlands, coastal sparsely vegetated sand dunes, wet sclerophyll forests, shrubby heath land and rock laden areas. They shelter in ground burrow, beneath tree roots, hollow logs, in piles of rocks and are often found under discarded piles of corrugated iron.
They prey upon small mammals (particularly mice), reptiles including skinks and other snakes and it is very likely, small birds if the opportunity presents itself.
Mating in the wild normally occurs around early September through to late November and male combat has been observed. All brown snakes are oviparous and sometime after mating the female will eventually deposit and leave to self incubate up to 30 eggs, which will hatch after about 65 days. When physical and environmental factors have been favorable, they have been known on occasions to produce two clutches in a given year.
The Dugite is not a species commonly kept in private collections across Australia. This is simply because up until recently, they were not easily legally obtainable and outside of the relatively few kept by a few individuals here in W.A, still remain rare in private collections outside of W.A.
Native reptiles in W.A they remain protected under the W.A Wildlife Conservation Act (1950)
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