Elapid (front-fanged venomous)
The Highland Copperhead is one of three species of copperhead found in south-east Australia but this is the only species that occurs in the Greater Sydney area.
Dorsally this snake is usually blackish grey or brown with reddish upper lateral colouration and yellowish lower flanks (paraventral scales) with a cream belly. Sometimes its head is copper in colour and there is a distinctive darker stripe down the middle of their back, especially in juveniles. The best way to identify this species is the presence of several white triangles or 'sails' on the upper lip that distinguish it from other large elapids in the area. At a glance this often dark coloured species may be confused with the Red-bellied Black Snake but the body scales of Red-bellies is usually glossy, whereas Copperheads tend to have a matt finish.
It may grow up to 1.25m in length and whilst potentially dangerously venomous, it is inoffensive by nature and bites from this species are rare if left alone and observed from a safe distance.
It is restricted to higher altitudes, such as the Upper Blue Mountains.
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