Ringed brown snake (Pseudonaja modesta) - endangered species listing

The Scientific Committee, established by the Threatened Species Conservation Act, has made a Final Determination to list the Ringed Brown Snake, Pseudonaja modesta (G√ľnther 1872), as an ENDANGERED SPECIES in Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Act. Listing of endangered species is provided for by Part 2 of the Act.

NSW Scientific Committee - final determination

The Scientific Committee has found that:

1. The Ringed Brown Snake is a pale-grey-brown to brown or reddish-brown elapid snake that reaches a total length of 50cm (Cogger 2000). A cream-coloured band separates the black head and neck and four to seven distinct black bands occur at regular intervals along the body. The species is usually active during the day and preys on skinks (Cogger 2000).

2. The Ringed Brown Snake occurs in the arid and semi-arid regions of all mainland states except Victoria (Cogger 2000). Since the 1970s, there have been only six records of the species in NSW: in 1988 from Nanya, 140km south of Broken Hill; in 1991 from Silverton; in 1994 from Kilberoo, 140km north-west of Bourke; in 1996 from Tibooburra; in 1997 from Wanaaring; and in 2001 from Tarawi Nature Reserve.

3. The Ringed Brown Snake occurs in a variety of habitats including arid shrublands, hummock grasslands, low rocky outcrops and dry watercourses (Swan 1990; Cogger 2000). The specific habitat requirements of the species are largely unknown (Sadlier et al. 1996), however the species is known to be terrestrial and to shelter under surface debris or in spinifex, Triodia species.

4. Degradation and loss of the habitat of Ringed Brown Snake occurs as a consequence of land use. Grazing by both livestock and feral herbivores affects the density and structure of vegetation. In particular, disturbance of surface debris through trampling may reduce the availability of shelter (Sadlier et al. 1996). Alteration of natural fire regimes affects Ringed Brown Snake habitat as overly frequent or non-patchy fires may reduce the amount of surface debris and therefore shelter available to the species. Loss and degradation of the habitat of prey species of the Ringed Brown Snake would indirectly affect the survival of this species.

5. The distribution of the Ringed Brown Snake is severely fragmented such that local populations of the species are at risk from extinction via stochastic events. Further, as the species has only been recorded from one nature reserve, most local populations of the species are not protected from threats associated with land use.

6. In view of the above the Scientific Committee is of the opinion that Ringed Brown Snake Pseudonaja modesta (Günther 1872) is likely to become extinct in nature in New South Wales unless the circumstances and factors threatening its survival or evolutionary development cease to operate.

Associate Professor Paul Adam
Scientific Committee

Proposed Gazettal date: 27/08/04
Exhibition period: 27/08/04 - 08/10/04


Cogger HG (2000) 'Reptiles and amphibians of Australia.' (Reed Books: Chatswood)

Sadlier RA, Pressey RL, Whish GL (1996) 'Reptiles and amphibians of particular conservation concern in the Western Division of New South Wales: distributions, habitats and conservation status.' NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, Occasional Paper 21, Hurstville.

Swan G (1990) 'A field guide to the snakes and lizards of New South Wales.' (Three Sisters Productions: Winmalee, NSW)