Mr Cool, the keelback snake
Freshwater snake, swamp tiger, or Australian keelback.
This keelback was lying across the doorstep outside my back door late one evening.
I had gone outside to throw some bread to the birds and, without knowing the snake was there, I stepped over it. When I turned around to come back inside, only about 10 seconds later, I noticed the keelback lying across my doorway only a few centimetres from the back door.
“How do I get inside to get my camera?” I wondered. Then I decided that if it hadn't worried about me stepping over it before, it probably wouldn't worry if I stepped over it again.
As I moved toward it, the snake slid slowly out of the way, and I went inside and got my camera.
When I came out, it was slithering along the side of the house, stopping briefly to check between each pair of bricks as though it was looking for lizards. It was about 64 centimetres (26 inches) long.
The light was terrible, as it was almost dark and was cloudy weather anyway. My camera wouldn't focus properly either with or without the flash, so I just took a lot of photos of it on various settings hoping that some would be in focus enough to be worthwhile. The white eyes are a result of the flash.
The keelback seemed quite unconcerned that I was there taking photos, and I was very close to it for most of the time. Because it was so cool, I called it Mr Cool.
At one stage it paused behind a pot plant, probably thinking I couldn't see its tail. But it was soon off again, searching the cracks around the house for lizards I guess.
Time to go
Eventually, after maybe 10 or 15 minutes, it gained speed and darted under my back fence. I lost sight of it as it headed towards the creek.
More about keelbacks
- They like to be near water — creeks, rivers, small lagoons, marshlands, and other watercourses.
- Keelbacks are common in low-lying areas of Brisbane.
- The keelback is Australia's only non-venomous, semi-aquatic snake.
- They like moist habitats, and forage under low-lying vegetation, in logs, and under boxes or sheets of corrugated iron.
- They are active during day and night.
- Keelbacks may release a pungent odour from their anal glands if threatened.
- They eat frogs, small fish and lizards, and are probably the only Australian animal that eats cane toads without ill-effects.
- They breed between early October and early December in southern Queensland.
- Female keelbacks lay 5 to 15 eggs, which hatch after 12 to 15 weeks.
- They often enter the water and can stay submerged for 20 minutes.
— Robert Doolan