Golden Tree Snake

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The golden tree snake (Dendrelaphis punctulata) is the most common diurnal snake in the Top End. During the day they can be found crossing roads or hanging from trees, warming their bodies in direct sunlight. At night these snakes sleep high in the pandanus palms or in low vegetation. A few months ago I was lucky to spot two golden tree snakes sleeping on top of each other with their cloacas still attached.

D. punculata is a shy and agile species, slipping away undetected to the casual observer. If cornered or confronted directly they will elevate the head, puff up the body and throat, sometimes even mock striking. Golden tree snakes are harmless to humans and the defensive display is just a bluff, but it can certainly be intimidating. Different morphs occur throughout coastal regions in northern and eastern Australia, including blue, green, gold, and black patterns on the dorsum. Top End golden tree snakes seem to be very susceptible to parasitic tapeworms, visible as lumps beneath the scales throughout the entire body.

Photographed after disturbance [4]

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