Training for an endurance race can be a gruelling challenge. Training for an endurance race in Australia can be a gruelling challenge and the perfect opportunity to bump into the continent's reptilian wildlife.


Those of us who aren't all that familiar with Australia's slithering lineup of native snake species might be forgiven for thinking this impressive specimen is brawny enough to pass for some of kind of constrictor. But the striped heavyweight is actually a tiger snake (Notechis scutatus), a highly venomous species found across the southern regions of the continent. 

The snakes are fairly common residents in these parts, but Victoria locals Yolanda McVilly and Annie Watson had never seen one quite this large. "[It's] probably the biggest snake I have ever seen," McVilly wrote when posting her video to Facebook last week. 

The duo had been hiking along their usual training route when they, quite literally, stumbled across the animal. "I took a step and my shoe was about a foot from the head of the snake. I did jump," McVilly told The Standard newspaper.

She estimates the snake was about two metres in length, which (if accurate) would rank it near the top for the species: most individuals are a more average 1.2 metres.

This may have been an exhilarating encounter for the two hikers, but the tiger snake seemed entirely uninterested in its human company. "I'm scared of snakes, just like anybody, but we saw that he wasn't going to do anything – we didn't feel threatened at all. He didn't even acknowledge us," McVilly recalled.

This isn't surprising. Given a choice, most snakes will opt for escape over conflict, and this one was probably keen to get on with its day of hunting the typical fare of frogs, lizards and small mammals.   

"The tiger snake is a usually timid species which, like most snakes, usually retreats at the approach of a human," notes the Parks & Wildlife Service

Still, these snakes do pack a very potent venom, and bites can be deadly, so it's good to see the two hikers giving this one the respectful space it deserves. 


Top header image: Tim Bawden/Flickr