Brown Snake vs. Python vs. Rattlesnake: Comparing Characteristics

The word “snake” usually strikes fear in the human mind, yet snakes are a great source of fascination for many. Brown snakes, pythons, and rattlesnakes are among the famous species of snakes. You may wonder what characteristics set them apart from each other. 

Most brown snakes and all rattlesnakes are venomous, whereas pythons are non-venomous. Pythons are the largest in terms of size compared to a brown snake or rattlesnake. The other differing traits may include their origin, habitat, color, body structure, and killing technique.

In the rest of this article, you’ll find all the different characteristics in greater detail. So let’s get started!

Key Differences Between Brown Snake, Python, and Rattlesnake

Learning about the characteristics of different snake species can be a little overwhelming for anyone, as many traits may set them apart from each other. To help you better understand the key differences, I have created the table below. 

Traits Brown SnakePythonRattlesnake
Venomous vs. Non-VenomousMostly highly venomous
Some non-venomous
SizeUsually small, some species can grow bigger
Very large
OriginAustralia, Papua New Guinea 
North America
Asia, Australia, AfricaAmericas – From southern Canada to central Argentina 
HabitatDense forests, marshes, urban and agricultural areas Grasslands, woodlands, rainforests, sandy desert hills, swamps, rocky outcropsMeadows, forests, prairies, deserts, marshes, swamps 
ColorUsually light brown but also found black, gray or reddish brownA range of colors from solid brown and black to bright greenBrown, yellow, green, chalky white, black, gray, dull red
Body structureLight colored stripe in the middle of the body and tiny dark markings on the sides of the body, rough scales and usually white bellyLong, striped, or solid body with fiber on the dry part of the skinLong, scaly, thick bodies with triangular heads and rattle on the tail
Killing techniqueBite and poison with venom

Non-venomous type use their teeth and jaws to eat small animals
Squeeze and constrictBite and poison with venom

Let’s have a look at these traits in greater detail. 

Venomous vs. Non-Venomous

Snakes are notorious for killing their prey using their deadly venom. However, not all snakes are venomous. There may even be a distinction within the different genera of a single type.

For instance, the brown snakes found in Australia, such as eastern brown snakes, are known to be highly venomous, whereas the ones found in North America are non-venomous. Similarly, rattlesnakes are venomous, while pythons are non-venomous. 

Venom can be categorized as neurotoxin or hemotoxin. Neurotoxin poisons the nervous system, while hemotoxin poisons the cardiovascular system.

The venom of brown snakes and rattlesnakes is mostly hemotoxin in nature. Some rattlesnakes, such as the Mojave rattlesnake’s venom, is both hemotoxin and neurotoxin. 


The python is a winner in terms of size when compared to brown snakes or rattlesnakes. A python can be anywhere between 0.5 m to 10 m (1.64 to 32.8 ft) long and weigh up to a whopping 250 lbs (113 kg). 

Rattlesnakes typically take second place in this comparison. The largest rattlesnake can grow up to 2.5 m (8.2 ft) and weigh 10 lbs (4.5 kg). Brown snakes of North American origin are usually small, whereas the venomous Australian types can grow between 1.5 m (4.9 ft) to 2.5 m (8.2 ft). 


Brown snakes and pythons are diverse in terms of their origins, as they are found across different continents. In comparison, rattlesnakes are only found in the Americas

There is also a clear distinction in traits between brown snakes of North America and the other types found in Australia and Papua New Guinea. The latter are more famous and usually are referred to when brown snakes are mentioned.

Although pythons are found in America, they are not native to American land. Given their exotic appeal, they were first imported to America as pets


All three types of snakes live in a diverse range of habitats, some of which are common. But there is an exception with large brown snakes as they are also found in suburban areas and farmlands living near to humans.

One of the reasons is their diet, which primarily consists of rodents. As rodents make a home in agricultural lands, they are followed by brown snakes. 


Among pythons, rattlesnakes, and brown snakes, pythons have the widest range of colors. Their beautifully unique patterns and rear colors are what enhance their aesthetic appeal. 

Many python lovers practice selective breeding to get a python with their desired pattern and colors. These are called morphs

Body Structure

Rattlesnakes are unique with regard to their distinctive rattle at the tail. These rattles are rings of keratin interlocking into each other. The snake vibrates them to create a buzzing sound to warn potential predators. 

Pythons also have a distinctive feature. Like humans, they have two lungs, whereas most species of snakes have only one. 

Killing Technique

Venomous brown snakes and rattlesnakes both kill their prey by biting them using fangs and injecting the venom. The neurotoxic venom causes instant paralysis and results in a quick death. 

Hemotoxic venom causes severe internal bleeding by destroying tissue in the body and eventually leading to death. The non-venomous brown snakes use their jaws and teeth to kill their prey.

Pythons use the constriction method to kill since they don’t have venom. They use this technique to immobilize and suffocate their victim. They patiently wait for their prey and bite to hold it tight with their long teeth.

Once they have a strong grip, they quickly wrap their body around the prey and squeeze it to cause suffocation and, eventually, death. Finally, they use their jaws to swallow their prey whole.  

Final Thoughts 

Brown snakes, pythons, and rattlesnakes all have distinctive features. Brown snakes are distinct for having different traits because of different genera and living in diverse habitats. They’re found near urban areas, and Australian brown snakes are known to be highly venomous. 

Pythons are unique in their size, body color, patterns, and killing technique. They have large and heavy bodies. They’re included in the list of the world’s famous exotic pets due to their aesthetic appeal. 

Rattlesnakes are native to the Americas. They are famous for the buzzing sound produced by their rattles, which they use as a warning signal. 

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