Australian Journal of Zoology Australian Journal of Zoology Society
Evolutionary, molecular and comparative zoology

Natural history of the slaty grey snake (Stegonotus cucullatus) (Serpentes : Colubridae) from tropical north Queensland, Australia

Dane F. Trembath A D , Simon Fearn B and Eivind Andreas Baste Undheim C
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, GPO Box 4646, Darwin, NT 0801, Australia.

B Department of Primary Industries and Water, Level 1, 167 Westbury Road, Launceston, Tas. 7250, Australia.

C Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Biology, Trondheim Biological Station, N-7491, Trondheim, Norway.

D Corresponding author. Email:

Australian Journal of Zoology 57(2) 119-124
Submitted: 2 December 2008  Accepted: 2 June 2009   Published: 21 July 2009


Slaty grey snakes (Stegonotus cucullatus) are medium to large members of the Colubridae that are common throughout the eastern and northern tropics of Australia. Although intensive field studies have been conducted on populations in the Northern Territory for over 10 years, no ecological data have been presented on free-ranging specimens of populations inhabiting tropical north Queensland. During a 10-year period we collected opportunistic data on 120 free-ranging specimens from the seasonally Wet Tropics in north Queensland. These snakes provided data on body sizes, activity times, food habits and reproduction. Male S. cucullatus were larger than females and had larger heads. More snakes were found during the warmer, humid parts of the year (wet season). S. cucullatus ate a wide range of vertebrate prey, including reptile eggs that were obtained seasonally. Females produced one clutch per year, and no relationship was found between maternal snout–vent length and clutch size.


Sincere thanks to the following people for their assistance or help in the field: John Blackburn, Chris Camacho, Alex Castle, David Freier, Ryan Hodgson, Gavin Huddleston, Kathy Huddleston, Ray Lloyd, Steve Patane, David Poppi, Damien King, York Morgan, Jodi Rowley, Joe Sambono, Jason Schaffer, Lin Schwarzkopf and Ed Smith. Thanks also to the Bureau of Meteorology for permitting the download of climatic data. Thanks to Paul Horner for suggestions on an earlier version of the manuscript. Additional thanks to the anonymous reviewers, whose comments helped improve this manuscript. This work was conducted under the following permits from the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (NO/001446/98/SAB and F1/000330/00/SAA) and Environmental Protection Agency (#WITK02196804, #WISP02196704, and #WISP01039503).


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