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Keelback Snake or Freshwater Snake

Keelback Snake Freshwater Snake

Although non-venomous the Keelback (Tropidonophis mairii) can omit an offensive odour when threatened. It is often mistaken by lay people for the highly venomous Rough-scaled snake due to the similar markings and carinated scales.


Keelbacks are generally olive brown in colour with dark cross bands that are often described as stripes due to the appearance of flecks seen through the scales. It has a cream coloured belly that has a pink or orange tinge running along the edges.
As the name suggests its body scales are keeled giving it ridges that run along the snake’s body. A small to medium sized species they grow up to 75cm but average between 50 – 60 centimetres.


This species may be active both day and night. A predominately terrestrial species, it has the capacity to climb although not with the ease of other colubrids.


Feeds mainly on frogs, but fish and skinks are also taken. This species is one of the few Australian vertebrates to prey successfully on the introduced Cane Toad. Although attempts to eat large toads are likely to have fatal consequences for the snake.

Distribution and Habitat

Found in most suburbs of Brisbane, the Keelback lives in well watered situations along creeks and in swamps and is also found in eucalypt forests, pastures, parks and suburban gardens.