New Venomous Snake Species Discovered In AustraliaThe desert whip snake has a blue body, hence its scientific name, which means blue gap. . Photo by Mark Hutchinson

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New Venomous Snake Species Discovered In Australia

The desert whip snake was previously thought to be another whip snake species.

The desert whip snake (Demansia cyanochasma), is a new species of whip snake that is found in dry habitats across Australia.

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A mildly venomous snake in Australian that was thought to another species has been determined to be a new venomous snake species, according to researchers with the University of Adelaide, the South Australian Museum and the Western Australian Museum. The desert whip snake (Demansia cyanochasma), is a new species of whip snake that is found in dry habitats across Australia, including Western and South Australia, Queensland and the Northern territories.

The desert whip snake was previously thought to be another whip snake species, but researchers at the university conducted tissue samples and DNA analysis and determined that the newly named desert whip snake is a new species.

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“Unlike other species of whip snake, the desert whip snake has a blueish body with a copper head and tail. It also doesn’t have as much black on its scales as its closest relative,” said the University of Adelaide’s Dr James Nankivell, the lead author of at the study and a DNA researcher at the university. “These subtle but consistent differences in external appearance and genetic evidence have led to us identifying this new species of whip snake.”

The desert whip snake has a blue body, hence its scientific name, which means blue gap, and a copper-colored head and tail. It grows to about 90 cm in length, and is a fast snake, which uses its speed to chase down lizards. According to the researchers, a bite from the desert whip snake is painful, but is not likely to cause serious harm to humans.

An abstract of the paper, “Whip it into shape: Revision of the Demansia psammophis (Schlegel, 1837) complex (Squamata: Elapidae), with a description of a new species from central Australia,” can be reviewed on the Zootaxa website.