My horse was eating and jumped back from her feed bowl and wouldn't go back to it. I thought she may have been stung by the electric fence, but thought that was strange as she was well aware of how to avoid it.

So I took some feed in to put in a tyre feeder that was on the ground and I could move it away from the fence. She wouldn't come near it. So I pulled the tyre feeder away from the fence (only a foot it was heavy) and found a red belly black snake curled up under it.

The horse knew the snake was there.

Someone told me they thought their horses were being killed by red belly black snakes and it got me thinking. Red belly black snakes are venomous, but they're not aggressive, they avoid people. I don't know much about their interactions with horses. Interestingly the snake moved very slowly. It was something my son and I commented on. It was later in the day and there had been plenty of warmth and sun (it's Spring), so either the snake was scared or possibly injured, although I could not see any visible signs of injury.

Are red belly black snakes venomous to horses?
How can I tell is my horse has been bitten?

  • 1
    From webcache.googleusercontent.com/… (an Equine Veterinary website) "Red-Bellied Black snakes don't usually cause death, but they can cause a lot of pain & muscle damage & some blood changes."
    – Kai
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


Can a red belly black snake kill a horse?

Probably not. Wikipedia lists its venom as having a LD50 in mice as 2.52 mg/kg, with an average of 37mg administered in a bite. I'd expect horses to be a lot heavier than 15 kg, so they should be in the clear.

That doesn't mean a bite can't cause some nasty symptoms:

Bites from red-bellied black snakes can be very painful—needing analgesia—and result in local swelling, prolonged bleeding, and even local necrosis, particularly if the bite is on a finger.

The most likely place for a horse to be bitten would be the legs. They are the closest to the ground and are most likely to threaten the snake (by accidentally or purposefully stepping on the snake). A visual inspection of the legs should go a long way, since most of the symptoms listed should be visible on the outside.

Some other remarks based on your video:

If the snake seems sluggish, most likely cause is being cold. While the weather might have been warm, they were hidden beneath something, so not in direct sunlight. Another option would be counting on their camouflage, but I'm personally not impressed by the camouflaging features of their colouring.

Furthermore, the snake looks very well fed. At the timestamp 1:11 in your video, you can easily see the space between the scales, pretty much over the entire body. It seems that it's doing some useful pest control ;)

  • yep, they eat frogs. Could that make it sluggish? In a paddock like that it's hard to camouflage, ina bush by a brook, much better. Yeh I was curious if they could kill a horse. This women found a couple of her horses dead by the dam (at different times) and said the red belly blacks bit their noses when they were drinking at the dam. To be honest, I found it odd.
    – user6796
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 8:05
  • do you think the snake was scared?
    – user6796
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 8:06
  • 1
    @YvetteColomb The nose part doesn't sound entirely implausible. The venom is said to cause local swelling and necrosis. Badly placed, this could cause sufficient loss of function. Similar to how a bee/waspsting near the throat poses more of a risk than on limbs.
    – JAD
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 8:08
  • 1
    Having just eaten a big meal for sure doesn't help with being mobile. From the video it doesn't look defensive. It didn't appear to frantically keep track of those around it, didn't try to pose, didn't try to get away, didn't attack (although the wikipedia says that RBBSs are not as aggressive). All in all it didn't appear to me as if it was really stressed. How much of it was due to the sluggishness, I don't know.
    – JAD
    Commented Oct 16, 2019 at 8:10
  • This is really sad. The snake is dead youtube.com/watch?v=vgJcCOsiHjM
    – user6796
    Commented Oct 23, 2019 at 12:18

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