BLACK, WESTERN AND ISLAND TIGER SNAKES Notechis ater (Krefft, 1866)
This deadly snake is found in Tasmania, offshore Islands of Bass Strait and South Australia, isolated pockets of South East South Australia, and South West Western Australia. A number of distinct forms are recognized and about five have been formally classified as subspecies. Other forms await closer study and classification.
Usually black, or very dark in colour, particularly specimens from South Eastern Australia, Western Australian specimens are more variable in colour. This snake typically attains 1.5 metres in length, but average size varies strongly with locality. On some Islands, specimens regularly exceed two metres, where as on adjacent islands maximums of half that length, and much lesser body weight are the norm. Although all subspecies of this snake are deadly, venom yields and toxicity of specimens also varies strongly with locality.
The scalation is smooth with 15-21 mid body rows, 155-190 ventrals, single anal, and 40-60 single subcaudals.
This snake is usually more placid in nature than the Eastern Tiger Snake Notechis scutatus, and consequently bites are rare. A notable exception are specimens from the Broughton River area in South Australia, which tend to be very excitable and potentially aggressive.
Although found in a variety of habitats, this species is most common in rocky areas, marshlands and coastal dune grasslands. The Black Tiger Snake is nocturnal in hot weather, but otherwise is usually diurnal. This species feeds on a variety of vertebrates, depending upon location.
Adults from some Bass Strait islands feed exclusively on young Mutton Birds, for about two months of the year, whilst apparently starving the rest of the year. King Island Tiger Snakes Notechis ater humphreysi are cannibalistic in nature.
About sixteen live young are produced in mid to late summer. These measure 15 cm, and if provided with plenty of food can attain maturity within two years.
This species is extremely hardy in captivity.
The above was from the book Australian Reptiles and Frogs by Raymond Hoser and now available on a fantastic CD-Rom along with a vast amount of other information, papers and the like on reptiles, frogs and other wildlife.