Big Brown Snakes – The Cynic Speaks.
(Originally published in The Crocodilian - Newsletter of the Victorian Association of Amateur Herpetologists, February 2001, 2(8), p.9.)
I read the piece by John Higgins former editor of the
Maryborough Advertiser in the last issue of The Crocodilian
2 (7) 2000 about large Brown Snakes from his local area in Western Victoria.
I just had to cringe as I read of the 'formal records' of two specimens measuring 11.5 and 9.5 feet.
Now at this stage I hate to call anyone a liar, but do ask, "please explain".
What exactly are these 'formal records'? and: Are these allegedly HUGE specimens lodged in a public museum so that skeptics like myself can see them?
My understanding is that the answer to the latter question is a resounding "no".
As for the first question, I'll leave that as a blank and add a third question: How accurate or reliable are these so-called 'formal records?'
Sounds to me a bit like the police claiming corruption doesn't exist!
That's the official line and we all know what to make of that!
And yes, it all sounds a bit like the 27 foot Scrub Python story or the 35 foot Retic.
At this stage there is no evidence that either exists – but yes, books still publish both statements as proven "fact" and/or 'formal records'.
While it would be reckless to discount any possibilities within the realms of zoology, I suggest that in the absence of concrete evidence to the contrary, all claims of 11.5 and 9.5 feet 'Brown Snakes' of the family Elapidae from anywhere in Victoria be discounted as mere flights of fantasy or fiction.
For that matter, I doubt that these alleged records could even be attributed to Carpet Pythons (Morelia) and know of none from this state ever getting anywhere near 11 feet!
However in fairness to Higgins, he does make one statement I agree with. That is that brown coloured elapids in Australasia are in desperate need of a major taxonomic review.
That one genus (Pailsus) and more than one species (so far only known from Australia and Islands to the north, including New Guinea, with one species described as recently as at end 2000) can be overlooked by science until the late 1990's is testament to the above assertion.
RAYMOND HOSER – DONCASTER, VICTORIA.
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