Species Profile and Threats Database

For information to assist proponents in referral, environmental assessments and compliance issues, refer to the Policy Statements and Guidelines (where available), the Conservation Advice (where available) or the Listing Advice (where available).
In addition, proponents and land managers should refer to the Recovery Plan (where available) or the Conservation Advice (where available) for recovery, mitigation and conservation information.

EPBC Act Listing Status Listed as Vulnerable as Furina dunmalli
Listing and Conservation Advices Commonwealth Conservation Advice for Furina dunmallii (Dunmall's Snake) (Threatened Species Scientific Committee (TSSC), 2014cx) [Conservation Advice].
Recovery Plan Decision Recovery Plan not required, the approved conservation advice for the species provides sufficient direction to implement priority actions and mitigate against key threats (29/04/2014).
Adopted/Made Recovery Plans
Policy Statements and Guidelines Draft Referral guidelines for the nationally listed Brigalow Belt reptiles (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011e) [Admin Guideline].
Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 (Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC), 2011m) [Admin Guideline].
Federal Register of
    Legislative Instruments
Declaration under s178, s181, and s183 of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 - List of threatened species, List of threatened ecological communities and List of threatening processes (Commonwealth of Australia, 2000) [Legislative Instrument] as Furina dunmalli.
State Government
    Documents and Websites
NSW:Dunmall's Snake - profile (NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW), 2005er) [Internet].
QLD:Wildlife and Ecosystems-Dunmall's snake. Wildlife and Ecosystems-Dunmall's snake. (Queensland Department of the Environment and Resource Management (DERM), 2007a) [Internet].
QLD:Brigalow Belt bioregion: a biodiversity jewel (Threatened Species Network (TSN), 2008b) [Information Sheet].
State Listing Status
QLD: Listed as Vulnerable (Nature Conservation Act 1992 (Queensland): May 2014 list) as Furina dunmalli
Non-statutory Listing Status
IUCN: Listed as Vulnerable (Global Status: IUCN Red List of Threatened Species: 2013.1 list)
Scientific name Furina dunmalli [59254]
Family Elapidae:Squamata:Reptilia:Chordata:Animalia
Species author (Worrell,1955)
Infraspecies author  
Other names Glyphodon dunmalli [1177]
Distribution map Species Distribution Map

This is an indicative distribution map of the present distribution of the species based on best available knowledge. See map caveat for more information.

Illustrations Google Images

Scientific name: Furina dunmalli

Common name: Dunmall's Snake

Dunmall's Snake also appears in the literature as Glyphodon dunmalli (Shine 1981).

Dunmall's Snake is a venomous snake that belongs to the Elapidae family. Dunmall's Snake is found only in Australia (Cogger 2000; Ehmann 1992b).

Dunmall's Snake has a uniform dark grey-brown colour above that fades to white at the lower flanks. The scales are smooth and light edged, with most of the scales near the upper lip having pale blotches (Cogger 2000; Ehmann 1992b). The snake is small to medium sized, growing to a length to 60 cm. The head is large and distinct from the neck (Cogger 2000; Ehmann 1992b).

General Ecology

Observations of a captive specimen suggest it is nocturnal, docile and terrestrial. It appears to favour dark places (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1997b).

The distribution of Dunmall's Snake extends from near the Queensland border throughout the Brigalow Belt South and Nandewar bioregions, as far south as Ashford in New South Wales (NSW).


Dunmall's Snake occurs primarily in the Brigalow Belt region in the south-eastern interior of Queensland. Records indicate sites at elevations between 200–500 m above sea level. The snake is very rare or secretive with limited records existing. It has been recorded at Archokoora, Oakey, Miles, Glenmorgan, Wallaville, Gladstone, Lake Broadwater, Mount Archer, Exhibition Range National Park, roadside reserves between Inglewood and Texas, Rosedale, Yeppoon and Lake Broadwater Conservation Park (Cogger et al. 1993; Covacevich et al. 1988; Covacevich et al. 1996a; McDonald et al. 1991). The species has also been recorded near the Bruxner Highway, approximately 5 km north-west of the Texas Road intersection, in October 2007 (Stephenson and Schmida 2008).

New South Wales

The distribution of Dunmall's Snake also extends into the inland regions of north-east NSW where it has been recorded in Bebo State Forest in 2002.

Fragmented distribution

The distribution of Dunmall's Snake is highly fragmented due to cropping and grazing, especially in the Darling Downs. As a result, the species has declined dramatically and is considered to be of particular conservation significance (Covacevich 1995).

Stephenson and Schmida (2008) intensively surveyed for Dunmall's Snake in likely habitat throughout the area bounded by Goondiwindi, Inglewood, Sundown National Park (Queensland) and Bonshaw (NSW) over many years and during different seasons without locating Dunmall's Snake.

Important populations

Given the rarity of Dunmall's Snake and the difficulty in detecting the species, the Commonwealth environment department considers that an occurrence of important habitat for Dunmall's Snake is a surrogate for an ‘important population’ of the species. For a description of important habitat for Dunmall's Snake, refer to the Draft referral guidelines for the nationally listed Brigalow Belt reptiles.

Whilst Dunmall's Snake has been recorded in Expedition National Park and Lake Broadwater Conservation Park, the species is not actively managed in these reserves (Cogger et al. 1993; Covacevich et al. 1996a; Covacevich et al. 1988; McDonald et al. 1991).

Dunmall's Snake has been found in a broad range of habitats, including:

  • Forests and woodlands on black alluvial cracking clay and clay loams dominated by Brigalow (Acacia harpophylla), other Wattles (A. burowii, A. deanii, A. leioclyx), native Cypress (Callitris spp.) or Bull-oak (Allocasuarina luehmannii) (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Covacevich et al. 1988; Stephenson & Schmida 2008).
  • Various Blue Spotted Gum (Corymbia citriodora), Ironbark (Eucalyptus crebra and E. melanophloia), White Cypress Pine (Callitris glaucophylla) and Bulloak open forest and woodland associations on sandstone derived soils (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Stephenson & Schmida 2008, Threatened Species Network 2008).

In other environments, one specimen was found on the edge of dry vine scrub near Tarong Power Station, Queensland, whilst another was found in hard ironstone country (Queensland Regional Ecosystem Land Zone 7) at Lake Broadwater near Dalby, Queensland.

Little is known about the ecological requirements of Dunmall's Snake, however, the species has been found sheltering under fallen timber and ground litter (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; Cogger et al. 1993) and may use cracks in alluvial clay soils (QLD DERM 2010; Richardson 2006).

Records indicate the species prefers habitats between 200 to 500 m above sea level.

For more information on Queensland Regional Ecosystems, please visit the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management website at

Little is known about the life cycle or reproduction behaviour of Dunmall's Snake (Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee 1997b). While there is no information on the breeding season or clutch size of the species (Forests Taskforce 1997), it is known that the species lays eggs rather than live young (TSN 2008b).

The diet of Dunmall's Snake consists of small skinks and geckos. Specific studies have found the gut contents of one specimen containing the remains of the Tree Skink, Egernia striolata (Shine 1981).

Species distinctiveness and detectability

Dunmall's Snake is secretive, difficult to detect and commonly misidentified. The species is superficially similar to several other small to moderate-sized elapids with predominantly dark-brown to black dorsal colouration, including the curl snake (Suta suta), eastern small-eyed snake (Rhinoplocephalus nigrescens), and Suta carpentariae. The high number of scales at mid-body (21) will distinguish it from all of these other than occasional Curl Snakes. Dunmall's snake often has small yellow flecks over the temporal region and lips, which differs from the characteristic facial pattern of curl snakes (DSEWPaC in prep.).

Sampling and recording of observed specimens

Due to the potential for confusion with these species, it is recommended that any record of this species be accompanied by good quality coloured photographs of the whole snake and of the side of the head, sufficiently clear to show the individual head scales and facial markings, and a count of mid-body scales (DSEWPaC in prep.). Photo graph vouchers should be forwarded to the Australian Museum or the Queensland Museum for positive identification and data collation of the record. A scale clip preserved in ethanol would also be of use as a genetic sample (DSEWPaC in prep.).

Survey methods

Habitat assessment

A habitat assessment is recommended to be undertaken as a preliminary step to designing and undertaking a targeted survey, including:

  • Determine the proximity of nearest records to the study area.
  • Search relevant databases such as Zoology Data Search (Queensland Museum) and Wildlife Online (Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management).
  • Obtain State vegetation mapping for the study area to determine the extent of suitable habitat including the presence of associated vegetation communities.
  • Determine the presence of suitable microhabitat features in the study area.

Targeted survey

Targeted surveys to confirm the presence/absence of Dunmall's Snake are done by actively searching suitable habitats (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010). In addition, transects, spotlighting and opportunistic surveys of roads are recommended (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010).

Optimal conditions for active searching

The species is more likely to be detected when conditions are warm, not too dry and maximum temperatures are greater than 25°C. Optimal survey times for active searching are early morning (two hours either side of dawn) and during the evening on warm nights (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010; DSEWPaC 2011m).

Minimum survey effort

Sufficient time is required to thoroughly search the area by day and to spotlight by night. The minimum survey effort required includes (Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop 2010):

  • a minimum of three survey days and nights
  • at least one replicate survey employing all of the recommended techniques, if the species has not already been detected.

The major threats to Dunmall's Snake are similar in Queensland and New South Wales. These threats are identified as (NSW DECC 2005; Cogger et al. 1993; McDonald et al. 1991):

  • extensive clearing of habitat for development (mining and urban), agriculture or pasture improvement
  • extensive overgrazing of habitat by domestic stock
  • loss of fallen timber and ground litter, e.g. fuel reduction burns, firewood collection
  • invasion of habitat by predatory animals and introduced weeds
  • possible drainage of swamps.

A recovery plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles, including Dunmall's Snake, was drafted by WWF-Australia in 2006 (Richardson 2006). The recovery actions outlined in this plan, and in the species profile on the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (Queensland DERM 2010b), are as follows: :

  • Encourage involvement, provide incentives and adopt a collaborative approach with government agencies, NRM regional bodies, the Indigenous community, key industry stakeholders and local governments to deliver region-specific information and implement sustained, effective recovery actions.
  • Identify research priorities and support the implementation of research projects undertaken by tertiary and research institutions.
  • Inspect and identify suitable habitat for conservation of Dunmall's Snake.
  • Identify key threats and develop management guidelines to protect key habitat.
  • Maximise the establishment of appropriate reserves to protect Dunmall's Snake habitat and landscape connectivity over the long term, for example, on stock route networks, road reserves and private lands.
  • Ensure Dunmall's Snake conservation is incorporated into appropriate land management decisions made by all levels of government and industry.
  • Develop and provide land-management guidelines and incentives for landowners to reduce the impact of current land use practices on the species outside reserves.
  • Negotiate management agreements and voluntary conservation agreements with landholders, on whose land Dunmall's Snake occurs, in line with the recommended management guidelines.
  • Facilitate on-ground projects to manage and protect habitats on a range of land tenures in line with recommended management guidelines, for example, in integrated weed and feral predator management programs.
  • Develop community awareness within the species' known range through media campaigns and education material and provide incentives for wider community involvement, for example, local governments and schools participating in reptile educational programs and adopting a local reptile species as their shire and/or school icon.
  • Implement recommended fire management guidelines in property and reserve designs.
  • Work with landholders and key stakeholders to undertake monitoring programs on selected sites.
  • Monitor and evaluate recovery actions, applying an adaptive management approach.

The Queensland Government also outlines ways in which individuals can become involved in threat abatement and recovery actions for Dunmall's Snake. These include becoming involved in community based projects, including weed and feral predator control and reporting sightings of the species to the Queensland Department of Environment and Resource Management (QLD DERM 2010).

The NSW government has a similar approach (NSW DECC 2005).

Management documents for Dunmall's Snake include:

  • Draft National Recovery Plan for the Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptiles (Richardson 2006).
  • Action Plan for Australian Reptiles (Cogger et al. 1993).

The following table lists known and perceived threats to this species. Threats are based on the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) threat classification version 1.1.

Threat Class Threatening Species References
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Agriculture and Aquaculture:Land clearing, habitat fragmentation and/or habitat degradation Reptile diversity at risk in the Brigalow Belt, Queensland. Memoirs of the Queensland Museum. 42(2):475-486. (Covacevich, J.A., P.J. Couper & K.R. McDonald, 1998) [Journal].
Furina dunmalli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006lh) [Internet].
Commonwealth Listing Advice on Land clearance (Threatened Species Scientific Committee, 2001w) [Listing Advice].
Agriculture and Aquaculture:Livestock Farming and Grazing:Grazing pressures and associated habitat changes Furina dunmalli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006lh) [Internet].
Natural System Modifications:Dams and Water Management/Use:Changes in hydrology including habitat drainage Furina dunmalli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006lh) [Internet].
Residential and Commercial Development:Housing and Urban Areas:Habitat loss, modification and fragmentation due to urban development Furina dunmalli in Species Profile and Threats (SPRAT) database (Department of the Environment and Heritage, 2006lh) [Internet].

Brigalow Belt Reptiles Workshop (2010). Proceedings from the workshop for the nine listed reptiles of the Brigalow Belt bioregions. 18-19 August. Brisbane: Queensland Herbarium.

Cogger, H.G. (2000). Reptiles and Amphibians of Australia - 6th edition. Sydney, NSW: Reed New Holland.

Cogger, H.G., E.E. Cameron, R.A. Sadlier & P. Eggler (1993). The Action Plan for Australian Reptiles. [Online]. Canberra, ACT: Australian Nature Conservation Agency. Available from:

Covacevich, J., W. Dunmall & J.A. Sorley (1988). Reptiles. In: Scott, G., ed. Lake Broadwater. Page(s) 265-273. Darling Downs Institute Press.

Covacevich, J.A. (1995). Realities in the Biodiversity Holy Grail: Prospects for Reptiles of Queensland's Brigalow Biogeographic Region. The Royal Society of Queensland. 106 (1):1-9.

Covacevich, J.A., P.J. Couper & K.R. McDonald (1996a). Reptiles of Queensland's Brigalow Biogeographic Region: Distributions, Status and Conservation. Page(s) 148. Canberra: Australian Nature Conservation Agency (ANCA).

Department of Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities (DSEWPaC) (2011m). Survey guidelines for Australia's threatened reptiles. EPBC Act survey guidelines 6.6 . [Online]. Canberra, ACT: DSEWPaC. Available from:

Department of the Environment and Resource Management (QLD DERM) (2010). Wildlife and Ecosystems-Dunmall's snake. [Online]. Available from:

Ehmann, H. (1992b). Reptiles. In: Strahan, R., ed. Encyclopedia of Australian Animals. Sydney: Angus & Robertson.

Forests Taskforce-Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (1997). Systematic Vertebrate Fauna Survey Project- Stage IIB Assessment of Habitat Quality for Priority Species in south-east Queensland Bioregion. [Online]. Available from:

International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) (2010). IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2010.4. [Online]. Available from:

McDonald, K.R., J.A. Covacevich, G.J. Ingram & P.J. Couper (1991). The status of frogs and reptiles. In: Ingram, G.J. & R.J. Raven, eds. An Atlas of Queensland's Frogs, Reptiles, Birds and Mammals. Page(s) 338-345. Brisbane: Queensland Museum.

NSW Department of Environment, Climate Change and Water (NSW DECCW) (2005er). Dunmall's Snake - profile. [Online]. Available from:

Queensland CRA/RFA Steering Committee (1997b). Systematic Vertebrate Fauna Survey Project- Stage IIB Assessment of Habitat Quality for Priority Species in south-east Queensland Bioregion. [Online]. Available from:

Richardson, R. (2006). Draft Queensland Brigalow Belt Reptile Recovery Plan 2008 - 2012. [Online]. Report to the Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts, Canberra. Brisbane, Queensland: WWF-Australia. Available from:

Shine, R. (1981). Ecology of Australian Elapid Snakes of the Genera Furina and Glyphodon. Journal of Herpetology. 15 (2):219-224.

Stephenson, G. & G. Schmida (2007). A second record of the elapid snake Furina dunmalli from New South Wales. Herpetofauna. 38:22-23.

Threatened Species Network (TSN) (2008b). Brigalow Belt bioregion: a biodiversity jewel. [Online]. WWF-Australia. Available from:

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This database is designed to provide statutory, biological and ecological information on species and ecological communities, migratory species, marine species, and species and species products subject to international trade and commercial use protected under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (the EPBC Act). It has been compiled from a range of sources including listing advice, recovery plans, published literature and individual experts. While reasonable efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy of the information, no guarantee is given, nor responsibility taken, by the Commonwealth for its accuracy, currency or completeness. The Commonwealth does not accept any responsibility for any loss or damage that may be occasioned directly or indirectly through the use of, or reliance on, the information contained in this database. The information contained in this database does not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth. This database is not intended to be a complete source of information on the matters it deals with. Individuals and organisations should consider all the available information, including that available from other sources, in deciding whether there is a need to make a referral or apply for a permit or exemption under the EPBC Act.

Citation: Department of the Environment (2014). Furina dunmalli in Species Profile and Threats Database, Department of the Environment, Canberra. Available from: Accessed Wed, 27 Aug 2014 20:50:14 +1000.