Australia has more than 80 venomous snakes but how many can you name?
Most people are familiar with the big beauties that get a bad rap - taipans, brown snakes and tiger snakes.
Sure, they are admittedly impressive but most of our snakes are small nonthreatening species and spend much of their life hanging out on the ground buried under vegetation. One example is the banded snake, known to science as Simoselaps bertholdi. This species belongs to the elapids - a family of venomous snakes that includes Australian species like brown and tiger snakes as well as international species such as mambas and cobras. Unlike their infamous relatives, banded snakes are secretive, rarely encountered and never bragged about down the pub.
Banded snakes eat small lizards that they both immobilise with venom and constrict, winding around the body of their prey to aid in capture and restraint. Like all snakes, they are important predators in the ecosystem.
It is common for female snakes to be larger than males. Female banded snakes have longer bodies and shorter tails, a useful metric to differentiate between the sexes.
As a difficult species to detect, scientific studies on banded snakes are rare. Data is often collected from preserved specimens in museums and wild populations require very long data sets to accumulate information over many years. Many techniques that are useful to study large species of snakes cannot be used on smaller species.
Radio-transmitters are common on large snakes and enable scientists to track individual animals and find out about their behaviour. We are yet to unravel the secret lives of banded snakes. Without knowledge of how their populations change over time and why, species can decline unknowingly. As technology emerges and we have access to smaller and more advanced devices, we will discover the secrets of even these most elusive snakes.