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

Natural history of the common tree snake, Dendrelaphis punctulatus (Serpentes : Colubridae), in the wet–dry tropics of north Queensland

S. Fearn A and D. F. Trembath B C

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

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

C Corresponding author. Email: dane.trembath@nt.gov.au

Australian Journal of Zoology 58(6) 384-389 http://dx.doi.org/10.1071/ZO10059
Submitted: 9 September 2010  Accepted: 17 March 2011   Published: 11 April 2011

Abstract

Common tree snakes, Dendrelaphis punctulatus, are medium to large colubrid snakes that are relatively common in the eastern and northern parts of tropical Australia. The only previous study on this species involved museum specimens from across the taxon’s range. During a seven-year period we collected data on 131 field-caught specimens from a melanotic population in the Townsville district of north Queensland. Dendrelaphis punctulatus was found to be primarily diurnal, with a peak in activity centred around the reproductive period during the transition from dry to wet seasons. Females were larger than males with respect to all measured parameters, including mass and head size. Reproduction in females was strongly seasonal and clutch size was related to maternal body size. Prey items consisted of frogs, lizards and locusts.


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