The Hoppes Borealis or Western Black Rat snake is one of the most venomous snakes in Australia and is a fairly large rat snake, with an average size of 15 inches. These snakes usually live in forests in southern Queensland and New South Wales but are also found inland in Victoria, South Australia and Western Australia. It is an omnivore and feeds on various small fish, including frogs and egg-laying snakes.
The Western Black Rat snake is a constrictor and has a venomous bite that is extremely painful. It is a non-aggressive snake but will defend itself if provoked. Snakes are usually covered with long soft hairs but the Western Black Rat snake has short, prickly hairs which it uses to pin its prey to the ground, enabling it to swallow it whole. Unlike other constrictors, this snake has a lateral line that allows it to squeeze its prey into its coils which makes the process of digestion extremely painful.
There are only two known species of this snake and they have slightly different habits and characteristics. The Western Black Rat snake is easily identified by its large body size, with a length nearing three feet and a tail nearly as long. However, it is not quite as large as the Eastern Black Rat snake which has a body about four feet long. In addition, the Western Black Rat snake has a much smaller tail. It has a head that is larger than its body, which may explain why it often bites people who handle or ‘brush’ it. It also possesses a yellowish rindle color which is a clear sign of venom injected.
This type of snake is considered to be venomous but is not dangerous to humans. Some experts think that they may have some psychological benefits and may help people cope with depression. The Eastern Black Rat snake is also a constrictor and is very aggressive. Unlike the Western Black Rat snake, it has no single tail and has a short tail. Its head is larger than its body, which may explain why it frequently bites people who handle or brush it.
When handled, it bites the skin to release its venom, similar to the method used by some insects. However, unlike other snakes, it does not inject venom. Snakes like other insects use constriction to protect themselves from predators. But the constrictor snake has evolved specifically to use its bite to immobilize prey. It has been used in cases such as bear attacks and was once used to drag live victims out of water.
There are many ways of treating and preventing bites. The most common one is avoidance: keep away from the snake. Carefully inspect any bites for any signs of venom. It is also recommended that you do not bite an injured snake unless you absolutely have to and only with your full strength. A quick reaction to a venomous bite can cause major complications and further injuries.