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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 6

Petrodymon. Krefft. — Petrodymon Cucullatus. — Red-bellied Snake

Petrodymon. Krefft.

Petrodymon Cucullatus.

Red-bellied Snake.

Purplish brown above, with a series of darker longitudinal lines along the upper part of the body, leaving a light elongate mark in the middle of each scale. Beneath yellow, bright red in adult specimens, each ventral plate clouded on the upper edge with purplish brown, much interrupted on the posterior part of the body. Divisional line of subcaudal plates marked in a similar manner, leaving the outer edges of the plates yellowish. Upper part of head purplish brown as far as the middle of posterior frontals, covering the vertical part of superciliaries, and reaching beyond the occipitals; this elliptical spot is joined to the back by a narrow band of the same colour running along the median line of the neck. A light-greyish band encircles the dark-brown mark, divided by the narrow line by which this mark is joined to the back. Upper and lower labials dotted with brown spots. Body rounded, bead rather flat, depressed; tail page 56 short, distinct from trunk, and ending in a conical spine or nail about a quarter of an inch long.

Scales in 15 rows (not in 13, as mentioned by Dr. Günther, whose description as Diemenia cucullata was taken from a very bad specimen); 6 upper labials, the third and fourth forming the lower edge of the orbit, the second labial not in contact with the posterior frontal; rostral broad, low, very obtuse superiorly; shields of the head regular, all more or less rounded posteriorly, and slightly imbricate, vertical twice as long as broad; one anterior and two posterior oculars, one temporal in contact with both oculars, four or five scale-like temporals behind; eye very small, pupil elliptical and erect.

About 3 years ago—in 1860—I captured a single individual of this species; since then, owing to the exertions of friends in the country, specimens from Ash Island, Hunter River, Port Macquarie, the Clarence River, and other localities have been received, so that its geographical range has been ascertained for many hundred miles along the east coast. This snake is strictly nocturnal in its habits, sluggish and of gentle disposition, never offering to bite when handled, and though venomous, it is so in a very slight degree only, as has been proved by experiments; its length seldom, if ever, exceeds 20 inches. Rocky and desolate places are frequented by it, and in such localities it is occasionally found under flat stones during the cold season.