After the biting cold that we have been exposed to in Brisbane in the last few weeks more and more of us have been reaching for the thermals. I, for one, am glad to see the temperatures climbing once more. Spring has almost reached South-East Queensland with just a couple of weeks of winter left. This time of year is gorgeous with the fresh, green growth and natures maternity ward opening up. Then of course, there is the increased snake activity! As winter turns into spring, we can see a steady increase in snake sightings around the Brisbane and Moreton Bay areas. Initially, these will generally be the more cold-tolerant species. Snakes such as carpet pythons and common tree snakes can bear the cold more than others. These snakes remain active throughout the winter, even if it is reduced activity from summer months. Our snakes don’t hibernate over winter. They enter a similar dormant state but one which allows them to still be somewhat active. They can still move to get a drink and will even feed on a warm enough winter’s day. This is a state called brumation.
This time of year, we start to see an increase in all reptile activity, even those that have entered a state of brumation. A wider range of snake species will venture around and into and around our homes. This is the more alert snakes on the lookout for food, water, or shelter. Their search will often bring them into rather unlikely places. These can sometimes make a surprising day for an unsuspecting human.
While these situations may catch us by surprise, it is always important not to panic. If you come across a snake, you should keep loved ones away and monitor the animal if possible while calling your local snake catcher. Once all the precautions are in place and the snake is captured, our client’s response is often with a decent dose of humour. It is true to say that this humour is an effective way to break the tension and alleviate some of the nagging fear. For some reason, unsuspecting and surprised clients will often believe this snake had a group of buddies who are still in hiding under the couch.
So, with snakes on the move, how can you reduce any risk to you or your family? There are a couple of simple things that you can do to minimize your chances of snake interaction. We will also give you some tips on what to do if you do come across a scaly intruder in your home:
- Reduce the Snake Habitat – Snakes cannot resist a pile of leaves or rubbish to hide under. You can reduce snake risks by eliminating leaf litter, timber, rubbish, or anything that is just too tempting for a snake to hide in or under. Vines and ground covering plants are a favourite place to hide and should be minimized around the exterior of your house. Be aware; wear long sleeves, boots and gloves if working outdoors or in vegetation. Be careful when mowing or trimming hedges, both for the snakes’ sake and yours!
- Eliminate Food Sources – keep your yard, kitchen, and bins tidy and free from any food scraps which may attract rodents. Mice and rats are a great favourite of snakes, and they are a potential meal for a hungry snake. If you keep poultry, try to contain your leftover chicken feed, and eliminate rats and mice when and if they appear. Minimizing snake habitat will also minimize the potential for prey items.
- Awareness – remember as the season warms up that we moved into the land of the reptile. They will make their homes in our homes. Snakes may attempt to hide in/under houses or around swimming pools during the warmer months. You are most likely to see them in the days after rain. They prefer peaceful, quiet areas. If you have been away for a weekend or for your annual holiday, be aware that wildlife may have moved into your property, work site or school during your absence.
Call a Snake Catcher – save your local snake catcher ‘s number. If you have a snake on your property which is causing concern, keep all pets, loved ones and the public away from the animal. Keep an eye on its movements and call immediately. We’re here 24/7 to advise on how best to manage the situation, whether or not it requires a callout. We are not the only snake catcher in the area, there are many. Just be sure to have the details of someone close to hand.
Don’t handle a snake yourself!
Under no circumstances should an untrained person attempt to handle/harm the animal. This is illegal and one of the main causes of snake bite in Australia.
While this all may sound alarming to some, keep in mind Australia’s extremely low snake bite and mortality rate. Even though we are lucky enough to be home to the most powerfully venomous snakes on the planet the mortality rates for people bitten are extremely low. Snake education and awareness is vital in keeping these numbers low. The anti-venom research that occurs here are another reason that fatalities are so low. Thee main cause of injury by a snake bite is down to the nature of snake interactions in Australia.
Our venomous snakes are usually large, alert, and quite timid. They will flee more readily than stand their ground. They will often bluff rather than actually biting in defence. We are lucky in that we don’t have the abundant and diverse small vipers which occur throughout much of the rest of the world. Or in fact ambush predators who rely on camouflage to protect themselves and will often strike at any threat that comes within range. Our snakes almost always prefer to run than fight and will do exactly that if given the chance.
Finally, I’d just add that we have better eyesight, a better visual vantage point on the world, and a bigger brain than snakes. These are all tools that allow us to be more aware of our surroundings. This awareness can help in keeping us out of harm’s way. I am confident in saying that no snake ever bit someone without being provoked or disturbed first!
So, Happy Spring 2021 everyone, enjoy yourselves and be snake aware out there! Don’t forget that if you are concerned about snake activity and you want us to come and have a look, all it takes is a phone call. You can get hold of Pat by calling 0407 129 260