Background Info

Some ancient people of Australia believe a "rainbow serpent" slithered from the water to create the world. Could this fascinating myth be based on fact? Join Wild Chronicles on a quest to find the truth about Australia's amazing snakes and legends.



The herpetologists, Bruce and John, search for snakes whose ancestors may have inspired the myth of the rainbow serpent. What is the first snake they find?

Show Answer

Bruce and John find the rough-scaled python, one of the rarest snakes on Earth.


What is the next snake Bruce and John study?

Show Answer

They find a taipan, which Bruce calls "one of the world's most venomous snakes."


What is unusual about the tiger snakes studied by Bruce on Chapell Island?

Show Answer

Chapell Island tiger snakes can survive an entire year on a single meal.


How does Bruce find the two file snakes?

Show Answer

File snakes are entirely aquatic. Bruce follows a local tradition by walking through a pond barefoot, stumbling over the snakes.


How do local human populations interact with file snakes?

Show Answer

File snakes are a source of food to many indigenous communities.


Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry



very old.



legend or traditional story.



reptile with scales and no limbs.


Media Credits

The audio, illustrations, photos, and videos are credited beneath the media asset, except for promotional images, which generally link to another page that contains the media credit. The Rights Holder for media is the person or group credited.


Caryl-Sue, National Geographic Society

Page Producer

Tom Kist

User Permissions

For information on user permissions, please read our Terms of Service.

If you have questions about licensing content on this page, please contact for more information and to obtain a license.

If you have questions about how to cite anything on our website in your project or classroom presentation, please visit our FAQ page.


Some media assets (videos, photos, audio recordings and PDFs) can be downloaded and used outside the National Geographic website according to the Terms of Service. If a media asset is downloadable, a download button appears in the lower right hand corner (download) of the media viewer. If no button appears, you cannot download or save the media.


Text on this page is printable and can be used according to our Terms of Service.


Any interactives on this page can only be played while you are visiting our website. You cannot download interactives.