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The distinctive Bandy Bandy

By Merlin Tzaros – age 13, who has had a keen interest in nature, especially reptiles, for several years

The Bandy Bandy is a predatory snake that sits one step up the food chain than its Blind Snake counterpart, feeding almost exclusively on Blind Snake species, sometimes consuming individuals as long as themselves.

The Bandy Bandy is a small to medium-sized snake, reaching up to 80cm when at full size, with a series of black and white bands spanning its total length. The band thickness varies between individuals, but usually the black bands are substantially thicker than the white ones. They have short, rounded snouts, similar to the Blind Snakes they feed on. They are also strong burrowers that can follow a Blind Snake’s scent trail, tracking them into an ant nest and capturing them.

There are six species of Bandy Bandy in Australia. Officially known as the Common Bandy Bandy, the species that occurs in northern Victoria has a range extending through most of New South Wales, the majority of Queensland and the eastern parts of the Northern Territory. However, due to their nocturnal, burrowing habits, this species is not encountered very often, but is occasionally found above ground on warm, humid nights, like its prey.

The Bandy Bandy has one of the most unique and impressive defence displays of any snake in Australia. When distressed or aggravated, they raise one or two loops of their body vertically off the ground, flipping themselves into wild coils and thrashing. The black and white bands create a visual illusion, and the animal can move away quickly whilst the predator is in a confused state. The Bandy Bandy lays clutches of 2 to 13 eggs, laid in late spring or early summer. Locally, they can be found in box-ironbark forest, pine-buloke woodland and rocky granitic woodlands. Though venomous, the Bandy Bandy is a very placid species that rarely bites, however caution should always be taken when handling this species or any other venomous snake.

We are very keen to hear from readers with any local sightings of this species and can be contacted via the Living Lightly coordinator – livinglightlybm@gmail.com.

Photo: The Bandy Bandy is a master of bluffing its way out of a tricky situation with an impressive visual display, by Chris Tzaros (Birds Bush and Beyond).