Identifying Australian snakes by color patterns
We investigated if Australian snakes can be identified by using their color, pattern, size and location. We coded these criteria for the 185 terrestrial snake species of Australia (excluding 37 species of sea snakes from our analysis). Uniformly brown snakes are most common, followed by banded and blotched species. Some highly variable species can have dozens of color patterns. For most localities these four criteria are sufficient to narrow down the number of possible species to fewer than 21 species and in most cases accurate identification is possible with a few photos for comparison. Given that most Australian snakes are venomous, accurately identifying snakes is also of medical importance. In addition to identifying snakes, colors and patterns provide useful data for phylogenetic and ecological studies.