Nature conservation

Threatened species

Pale-headed Snake - profile

Indicative distribution

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The areas shown in pink and/purple are the sub-regions where the species or community is known or predicted to occur. They may not occur thoughout the sub-region but may be restricted to certain areas. ( click here to see geographic restrictions). The information presented in this map is only indicative and may contain errors and omissions.
Scientific name: Hoplocephalus bitorquatus
Conservation status in NSW: Vulnerable
Commonwealth status: Not listed
Profile last updated: 22 Jun 2022


The Pale-headed Snake is a medium-sized (up to 90 cm long), largely tree-dwelling snake. The back, side and tail is a uniform light brown or grey with a white or cream band on the nape, bordered by a narrow blackish bar which may be solid, or broken in the middle. The top of the head is grey, and may have a series of black spots, which are most prominent along the edge of the white nape. The lips may have black vertical bars. The belly is creamy grey sometimes with darker flecks.


A patchy distribution from north-east Queensland to the north-eastern quarter of NSW. In NSW it has historically been recorded from as far west as Mungindi and Quambone on the Darling Riverine Plains, across the north west slopes, and from the north coast from Queensland to Sydney. A small number of historical records are known for the New England Tablelands from Glenn Innes and Tenterfield; however, the majority of records appear to be from sites of relatively lower elevation. Although the Pale-headed snake distribution is very cryptic, it now appears to have contracted to a patchy and fragmented distribution.

Habitat and ecology

  • The Pale-headed Snake is a highly cryptic species that can spend weeks at a time hidden in tree hollows.
  • Found mainly in dry eucalypt forests and woodlands, cypress forest and occasionally in rainforest or moist eucalypt forest.
  • In drier environments, it appears to favour habitats close to riparian areas.
  • Shelter during the day between loose bark and tree-trunks, or in hollow trunks and limbs of dead trees.
  • The diet of the Pale-headed Snake consists largely of tree frogs, although ground-dwelling frogs, lizards and small mammals are also taken.
  • The Pale-headed Snake is relatively unusual amongst elapid snakes in that it is well adapted to climbing trees.

Regional distribution and habitat

Click on a region below to view detailed distribution, habitat and vegetation information.


Recovery strategies

Activities to assist this species

Information sources

IBRA Bioregion IBRA Subregion Known or predicted Geographic restrictions region
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Plains Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthLiverpool Range Predicted None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Basalts Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthNorthern Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthPilliga Outwash Known None
Brigalow Belt SouthTalbragar Valley Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsBogan-Macquarie Predicted None
Darling Riverine PlainsCastlereagh-Barwon Known None
NandewarInverell Basalts Predicted None
NandewarKaputar Predicted None
NandewarNandewar Northern Complex Predicted None
NandewarPeel Predicted None
New England TablelandsArmidale Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsBeardy River Hills Predicted None
New England TablelandsBinghi Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsBundarra Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsDeepwater Downs Predicted None
New England TablelandsEastern Nandewars Predicted None
New England TablelandsEbor Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsGlenn Innes-Guyra Basalts Predicted None
New England TablelandsMoredun Volcanics Predicted None
New England TablelandsNightcap Predicted None
New England TablelandsNortheast Forest Lands Predicted None
New England TablelandsRound Mountain Predicted None
New England TablelandsSevern River Volcanics Predicted None
New England TablelandsStanthorpe Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsTenterfield Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsTingha Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsWalcha Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsWongwibinda Plateau Predicted None
New England TablelandsYarrowyck-Kentucky Downs Predicted None
NSW North CoastBarrington Predicted None
NSW North CoastCarrai Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastCataract Predicted None
NSW North CoastChaelundi Predicted None
NSW North CoastCoffs Coast and Escarpment Known None
NSW North CoastComboyne Plateau Predicted None
NSW North CoastDalmorton Predicted None
NSW North CoastEllerston Predicted None
NSW North CoastGuy Fawkes Predicted None
NSW North CoastKaruah Manning Predicted None
NSW North CoastMacleay Gorges Predicted None
NSW North CoastMacleay Hastings Known None
NSW North CoastMummel Escarpment Predicted None
NSW North CoastRocky River Gorge Predicted None
NSW North CoastTomalla Predicted None
NSW North CoastUpper Hunter Known None
NSW North CoastUpper Manning Predicted None
NSW North CoastWashpool Predicted None
NSW North CoastYuraygir Predicted None
NSW South Western SlopesInland Slopes Predicted None
Other StateQLD Known None
South Eastern QueenslandBurringbar-Conondale Ranges Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Lowlands Known None
South Eastern QueenslandClarence Sandstones Known None
South Eastern QueenslandScenic Rim Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandSunshine Coast-Gold Coast Lowlands Predicted None
South Eastern QueenslandWoodenbong Known None
Sydney BasinHunter Known None
Sydney BasinKerrabee Predicted None
Sydney BasinPittwater Known None
Sydney BasinWyong Known None
Sydney BasinYengo Predicted None