Question Sheet


These questions and answers are not graded.   There is material that can be used for pre-school as well as for year 12 students.  However, most secondary school students will understand all of the material.  It is up to teachers to select what suits their needs.

Content: Q 1 Classification/Taxonomy --- Q 2 - 50 Snakes --- Q 51 - 63, Cats & Foxes ---Q 61 - 66 Forestry in Australia

You will notice that in the section on ferals and forestry Q 51 to 66 there is partly an overlap, as this issue is sometimes interrelated

There may be a little too much for most people to bother printing out so you will be better off just reading it off the web.  However,  you are welcome to copy it all to disk and use it as you see fit.

To see the answers click on the blue Question number then, to view next question click on the number again.

If you'd like to understand how a dangerously venomous snake of Australia sees the world, that is to say.  The world from a snakes point of view.  Then go to Question 33

Question 1.   What are meant by the words Taxonomy and Classification?

This question on classification is rather lengthy though not too difficult to follow.  Whoever bothers to work through it will get a useful grounding in taxonomy.  Much of what follows will make more sense if this section is read through a couple of times.  Perhaps once, then again a week or two later.

Question 2.   How many families of snakes are there in Australia?

Question 3.  How many genera of snakes are there in Australia and the surrounding waters, including sea snakes and sea kraits?

Question 4.  Approximately how many species of snakes are there in Australia?

Question 5.  Approximately how many species of snakes are there worldwide?

Question 6.  What is the most prolific family of snakes in Australia?

Question 7.  What is the most prolific family of snakes in the world?

Question 8.  How many species of colubrids are there in Australia?

Question 9.  The classification of Australian pythons is a little complex and still not complete. Approximately how many species of pythons are said to be in Australia to date?

Question 10.  What are the two main sub-families of the Boidae family and more importantly what are their common names?

Question 11.  Which continent has a substantial number of boas only, and which continent has a substantial number of pythons only?

Question 12.  Concerning reproduction, what is the major difference between pythons and boas?

Question 13.  In the python and boa family Boidae are found the two largest snakes in the world.  On which continents could you find them and what are their common names?

Question 14.  When did the first snakes appear in the fossil record?

Question 15.  When did the first vipers and pit vipers appear in the fossil record?

Question 16.  According to the fossil record, which animals began to flourish at the same time as the vipers emerged?

Question 17.  What is meant by the 'pits' on a viper and what is their function?

Question 18.  An elapid is a front and fixed fanged snake.  The fangs on a fixed fanged snake are so short they do not usually need to be hinged.  If they do need to be hinged, it's because it is an unusual elapid whose fang is extraordinarily long for a snake of that family.  There is a dangerously venomous Australian elapid that is our viper look alike.  Of course Australia has no rattlesnakes so it has no rattle.  However, it will use the same method for defense and getting close to its prey as vipers do.  What elapid is this and what methods of hunting and de fence does it use?

Question 19.  What other types of snakes are known to sometimes have heat sensing pits and where are the pits usually located on these snakes?

Question 20.  There are only two primitive Australian pythons that do not have the infra-red or heat sensing pits in their lower lips.  What are their common names?

Question 21.  What is meant by Batesian mimicry and can you name the two well known American snakes for which this phenomenon is obvious?

Question 22.  Snakes can be found in open grassland, open bush land& scrub land, the hollows & branches of trees, dense forest (dry,wet, cool and tropical), rivers, soil, amongst rocks, in the sea, among coral reefs and along coastlines.  Can you name some geographical locations on earth where snakes cannot normally be found?

Question 23.  What is meant by a pelagic sea snake?

Question 24.  What is one major difference between a sea snake and a sea krait?

Question 25.  Can you name some food items eaten by various types of snakes?

Question 26.  Can you name some forms of defense used by various types of snakes?

Question 27.  What is the function of the Jacobson's organ located in the roof of the mouth of snakes and some species of lizards such as the monitor lizard, known as a goanna in Australia?

Question 28.  Considering the Jacobson's organ, what is believed to be the advantage of a snake having a forked tongue?

Question 29.  What types of teeth and fangs do Snakes have?

Question 30.  Colubrids, the major family of snakes in the world, are mostly harmless or only slightly venomous and very few of them are deadly.  Can you name any of the deadly colubrids and where in the world they might be found?

Question 31.  What is the recorded, top traveling (not striking) speed of a snake?

Question 32.   a) What is the name of the fastest snake recorded and where is it found?
            b) If recorded, what Australian snake could possibly travel faster than that snake?

Question 33.  What are the only reasons that a snake might travel at top speed?   (THE TRUE NATURE OF AUSTRALIAN DANGEROUSLY VENOMOUS SNAKES)

Question 34.  Can you define: viviparous, oviparous and ovoviviparous?

Question 35.  What would be an advantage of a snake bearing live young as opposed to egg laying?

Question 36.  Over the last hundred years, what evolutionary pressure has been brought to bear upon the Peninsula tiger snakes that inhabit two of the five islets of Pelican Lagoon on Kangaroo Island in South Australia?

Question 37.  How do the tiger snakes from the two islets of Pelican Lagoon now differ from their neighbours and why?

Question 38.  The grasslands that once joined Tasmania and the mainland under what is now the eastern and western sides of Bass Strait have been taken over by the sea.  Today, on the eastern side of Bass Strait is the Furneaux Group, consisting of Flinders Island and its neighbours.  On the western side of Bass Strait is King Island and its neighbours.  These islands are the remaining high points of those lost grasslands.  How did the tiger snakes that were marooned on these islands survive for the last 8000 or so years and what has happened to them in comparison with their mainland and Tasmanian relatives?

Question 39.  In English, what is meant by venom and what is meant by poison and how is the word toxin used?

Question 40.  What would be some major reasons for ensuring the survival of the many species of snakes in Australia?

Question 41.  Can you name Australia's major snake venoms?

Question 42.  When compared 'drop for drop' and tested on mice, what Australian snake venom is said to have a toxicity equal to that of the Indian Cobra (Naja naja)?

Question 43.  When tested on mice, what are the four most deadly snakes in the world and how do they rate on the so called cobra scale?

Question 44.  As deadly as Australian snakes are said to be, they are responsible on average for about two or three human fatalities per year.  What other species of snake in the world is responsible for many more deaths than this?

Question 45.  There are only two reasons why a snake will bite.  What are they?

Question 46.  When you confront a snake, what are some of the safety advantages that are always in your favour?

Question 47.  When you are moving through the countryside or the bush, what is the advantage of making a lot of noise to scare the snakes away?

Question 48.  What is the most valuable item of first aid for an Australian snakebite and why is it so?

Question 49.  Why is it not wise to wash the bite of an Australian snake before applying a pressure  bandage?

Question 50. a) Why is it not smart to pick up snakes in the bush or try to kill them?
and b)  Even though snakes are silent and cannot scream, do they feel pain?

Some important facts about Australian wildlife loss and feral cats & foxes.

Forestry is listed after the ferals but these issues can not be looked at in isolation.

Ferals go from 51 to 63 then there is an overlap with forestry covered from 61 to 66 because this issue is sometimes related.

Question 51.  How many species of vertebrates have been lost over the last hundred or so years in Australia?

Use the most conservative figures when answering the following 4 questions.

Question 52.  How many native animals does the average domestic cat kill each year?

Question 53.  A feral cat would need to kill at least twenty five times this figure to survive.  How many native animals would this be?

Question 54.  The most conservative figures put Australia's feral cat and fox population at nine million. Some estimates put the feral cat population at 18.4 million alone. Conservatively, how many native animals would have to be killed every year to feed this feral population?

Question 55.  Over a nine year period, costing the taxpayer a small fortune, there were 70 convictions for smuggling Australian wildlife.  This effort saved a total of 956 animals and eggs.  How many feral cats would you have to cull to save more native animals than this total?

Question 56.  How does putting a bell on a cat's collar help to save wildlife?

Question 57.  What effect does locking your cat up at night have on saving wildlife?

Question 58.  Why do cats, whether feral or domestic, not have much success at catching introduced birds such as: starlings, Indian minors and sparrows?

Question 59.  Thirty to forty years ago in suburban Melbourne, it was normal in the summertime to see hundreds of skinks on everybody's paling fence.  It was also normal to see hundreds of native birds such as finches, Blue Wrens, Restless Flycatchers, Grey Fantails, Willy Wagtails, Whistlers, Pardalotes, Thornbills, and Silvereyes, just to mention a few.  During the winter it was common to see Red Robins whose flash of red was a most beautiful sight.  On occasions you may see one or two of these birds in your neighbourhood, especially the Willy Wagtail.  The Willy Wagtails were once so common that they would always nest together with the Mud-larks (Magpie-lark or Pee-wee).  It was a kind of symbiotic arrangement.  Alas!  Those days are gone.  However, it is still possible to bring these creatures back.  How might this be done?

Question 60.  Besides humans, what other feral animals are believed by many to pose the greatest threat to Australian wildlife?

Question 61.  What are the three major threats to Australian wildlife which make all others pale into insignificance?

Question 62.  Why is 'new growth forest' never adequate for the survival of many types of reptiles, birds and arboreal marsupials; of which Leadbeater's Possum, Victoria's state animal, is an excellent example?

Question 63.   Before European settlement in Australia, some (but most definitely not all) areas were regularly burned as a form of rural husbandry by the indigenous inhabitants.  How may this burning have been possible, without incurring the great fires that have beset Australia since the 1930s?

Question 64.  What is at least one alternative to the clear felling of what is left of our virgin forest?

Question 65.  What is going on in our forests and are there any alternatives?

Question 66.  How will genetically modified food effect THE NATURE OF AUSTRALIA.  Is this technology there to feed your children? 


I am most certainly not saying that all genetic engineering will be bad.  I am positive that much of it will be wonderful.  However, there is one aspect of it that is extremely dangerous and, we are being forced to accept it without question.  As you read this there are decisions being made that will make you very angry, after the fact.  It is not good to be angry so it is best that we do something about it before we get to that stage.  Usually when something goes wrong in life you can fix it.  If what some people are trying to do to us right this minute is allowed to happen then it can never be fixed and our children will suffer the consequences.  Please read on and make up your own mind.

Instead of the longer story in Question 66 you could go to the front page of and read 'GMOs in a Nut Shell'.

Did you know that with the so-called 'Free Trade Agreement' that is about to be signed by our government we will be forced to accept all genetically engineered food and produce that the US wants to throw at us?  If we then refuse to accept we can be dealt with by US courts.  Could you imagine that this is what our Prime Minister and the Leader of the Opposition are cooking up for our children's future?  This is being rushed through because averybody is looking at Iraq and so our media is not focusing on what is happening to us.  Please ask our people in the media if they care.  Ask them to look at the front page at