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Black Snake Group

  • Mulga Snake or King Brown Snake (Pseudechis australis)
  • Spotted mulga snake (P. butleri)
  • Collett's snake (P. colletti)
  • Spotted black snake (P. guttata)

This information should be read in conjunction with the detailed background information on Australian snakebite.

Antivenom Black Snake: starting dose 1 ampoule
Bite Site 50% effective bite, significant local pain, swelling and bruising
Principle venom effect Predominantly myolysis & mild coagulopathy, no paralysis

Black snakes are widely distributed in a variety of habitats throughout Australia.

MULGA SNAKE or KING BROWN SNAKE ( Pseudechis australis )

The mulga snake is a member of the black snake group, but far more dangerous than its cousin the . Mulga snakes are probably the second most common cause of significant snakebite in arid areas of Australia but can be found in most areas apart from the SE of Victoria and NSW. Few cases are recorded in the medical literature, but they are known to cause fatalities and severe envenomation. While their venom is less potent than some other species (e.g. … , … ), they produce large quantities (up to 180 mg) and have quite large fangs (up to 6 mm). The majority of mulga snake bites will result in significant envenomation, requiring antivenom therapy.

It is a large snake, usually brown in colour, with a slight yellow tinge to the edge of each scale, giving a distinctive appearance. The head is triangular, flattened and broad.

The mulga has moderately powerful venom, its principal effect being myolysis of skeletal muscle, with the potential for secondary renal failure and hyperkalaemia. True paralysis does not seem to occur with mulga snake bites, but the muscle damage may be severe enough to cause direct muscle weakness, which might mimic paralysis. The venom does not contain procoagulants, but rather true anticoagulants. Defibrination coagulopathy is not seen, but there may be prolongation of clotting times (INR, aPTT) due to the anticoagulants. This is poorly documented. Mulga snake bites are usually associated with significant local swelling and pain at the bite site. The swelling may take several hours to fully develop, but many days to fully subside.

NOTE: Gives positive result in the black snake tube of the Venom Detection Kit.
Preferred antivenom is CSL Black Snake Antivenom.


Shea GM. The distribution and identification of dangerously venomous Australian terrestrial snakes. Aust. Vet. J. 1999;77(12):791-8.
Sutherland SK, Tibballs J. Treatment of snake bite in Australia. In: Sutherland SK, Tibballs J, editors. Australian Animal Toxins. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Oxford University Press; 2001. p. 286-342.
White J. Clinical Toxicology of Snakebite in Australia and New Guinea. In: Meier J, White J, editors. Handbook of Clinical Toxicology of Animal Venoms and Poisons. 1st ed. New York: CRC Press; 1995. p. 595-618.

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