Terrestrial Elapid Snakes and Sea Snakes - Elapidae
Australian Coral Snake, Brachyurophis australis, a burrowing, shovel-snouted species that feeds on reptile eggs and skinks.The elapids are the front-fanged venomous snakes. All Australia's dangerously venomous land snakes belong to this group as do the sea snakes. These snakes possess a sophisticated venom delivery system. They range from inoffensive, mildly venomous species (for example, the White-crowned Snake, Cacophis harriettae and the Coral Snake, Brachyurophis australis) to dangerously venomous species that are responsible for human fatalities (for example, the Taipan, Oxyuranus scutellatus and Eastern Brown Snake, Pseudonaja textilis).
The sea snakes are readily distinguished from their terrestrial counterparts by their upright, paddle-shaped tail which provides propulsive thrust for swimming. They also have nostrils positioned on the top of the snout (not the sides as in land snakes).
All the elapids feed on vertebrates or their eggs or a combination of both. Some species are very choosy in their prey choices. For instance, Bandy Bandys (Vermicella annulata) feed only on blind snakes and the Stagger-banded (Aipysurus eydouxii) and Turtle-headed (Emydocephalus annulatus) Sea Snakes eat only the eggs of blenniid and gobid fishes.
The sea snakes all produce live young. The terrestrial elapids are a mixture of live-bearing and egg-laying species.
There are 49 species of terrestrial elapids in Queensland and around 23 species of sea snakes.
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