Caught and Coloured: Zoology Illustrations from Colonial Victoria

White-lipped Snake, Drysdalia coronoides

Image Details
  • Plate Number: 11
  • Media: Drawing - Pencil, watercolour and ink on paper
  • Lithographer: Arthur Bartholomew
  • Artist: Frederick Schoenfeld
  • Location: Australia, Victoria, Yarra bank
Transcript from the Prodromus of Zoology

Plate 11, Figure 2. The White-lipped Snake, Hoplocephalus coronoides (now known as Drysdalia coronoides) found at Melbourne, Bullarook

It has been supposed hitherto to be peculiar to Tasmania, but it certainly (like the H. superbus, also supposed not to occur on the mainland) is a not uncommon species about Melbourne.

The figured specimen is that from Yarra-bank, while the one from Bullarook Forest was remarkable for a more general rusty reddish coloring.

The head only has been figured of this species before.

Plate 11, Figure 1. Little Whip Snake, Hoplocephalus flagellum (now known as Suta flagellum) found at Brighton, Boroondara, Prahran, Caulfield, Mount Martha

This little snake seems very local in its distribution; it often excites alarm from being taken for the young of the Brown Snake, but it rarely reaches a foot in length, and is no more injurious than the sting of a bee, although its poison fang are on the usual plan of construction of the large dangerous species. It feeds on the small young of frogs and lizards.

Common at Brighton Beach, being often dug out of the light sandy soil of gardens from a depth of several inches, and occasionally at Caulfield and Boroondara.

This species has not been figured before.

Current Scientific Information

White-lipped Snake, Drysdalia coronoides


Small species up to 40 cm long. A conspicuous white stripe along the upper lip, and a salmon-pink belly. Scales are in 15 rows at mid-body, a single undivided scale in front of the anus and 38 to 67 single undivided scales running along the underside of the tail.

Habitat and range

In many different habitats, from heaths to sclerophyll forests and woodlands. Common in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, including the Dandenongs.


This species is not thought to be highly dangerous to humans, but any snake bite must be treated with caution; there is at least one reliably reported case of a dangerously severe reaction to the bite of this species. Feeds on small lizards (especially skinks) and occasionally frogs. Produces litters of 3 to 10 live young in late summer.