Fam­ily rapt in rep­tiles

Snakes are all in a night’s work for Jes­sica and her Dad

Townsville Bulletin - - Front Page - By JES­SICA JOHN­STON

IT could wrap around her body sev­eral times, but lit­tle Jes­sica Bin­g­ley isn’t scared of a three­me­tre python.

Like her Dad, she wants to be a snake catcher when she grows up.

Jes­sica’s fa­ther Richard has been col­lect­ing snakes from Townsville yards for the past 12 months.

But he got way more than he bar­gained for when he got a phone call from a man to col­lect a snake in Rosslea.

‘‘He said it was a big python. Usu­ally when they say it’s big you take their mea­sure­ment and halve it,’’ Mr Bin­g­ley said.

He was more than a lit­tle sur­prised to find a three-me­tre car­pet python, which was dou­ble the size he would usu­ally col­lect from a sub­ur­ban yard.

‘‘Usu­ally pythons around th­ese parts are one me­tre to a me­tre and a half. This one’s a beauty,’’ he said.

‘‘I took it to the vet and judg­ing from the size it must be about 12 to 15 years old.

‘‘Usu­ally they grow larger in cap­tiv­ity. I’ve got one about the same size and he’s 10.’’

Mr Bin­g­ley said the coastal car­pet python was in­fested with ticks and lice, so he took it to his Ras­mussen home to care for it un­til it could be re­leased into the wild.

The python is re­cov­er­ing, but is still un­der­weight.

Mr Bin­g­ley said most snakes found around sub­ur­bia were not ven­omous.

He said lo­cal snake catch­ers would cap­ture at least one snake a day dur­ing the peak of sum­mer from Novem­ber to March.

Mr Bin­g­ley said green tree snakes, brown tree snakes, keel­back snakes, car­pet pythons, spot­ted pythons, east­ern brown snakes, black whip snakes and taipans were the most com­mon in North Queens­land.

Mr Bin­g­ley con­vinced his wife to al­low him to get his first pet snake last year.

Now the fam­ily has 18snakes and 13 ba­bies.

Mr Bin­g­ley ad­mit­ted he didn’t love snakes when he first came in con­tact with them.

‘‘We lived on a farm and my par­ents used to hit them with a shovel. I learnt how to pick them up and move them, be­cause there wasn’t al­ways a shovel around,’’ he said.

But Mr Bin­g­ley said that was ex­actly the kind of men­tal­ity he wants to ed­u­cate against.

And lit­tle Jes­sica is help­ing him do it.

‘‘I take her along on jobs with me, she loves it, she wants to be a snake catcher when she grows up,’’ he said.

‘‘She’s got a snake of her own, a chil­dren’s python, and a cou­ple of lizards.’’

Jes­sica’s pet python is named Crikey, in hon­our of the late Steve Ir­win.

‘‘Snakes aren’t scary, but you shouldn’t touch them be­cause they are not all pets,’’ five-year-old Jes­sica said.

She said peo­ple should call a snake catcher like her dad if they find a snake in their gar­den.

‘‘If you see a snake in your gar­den, tell your mum and dad and they can get a snake catcher like my dad to get it,’’ Jes­sica said.

‘‘He is very care­ful and has all the right equip­ment.

‘‘I go with him at night-time be­cause he needs some­one to hold the torch.’’ Mr Bin­g­ley has this ad­vice. ‘‘If you find a snake in your yard, keep pets and chil­dren away. Leave it alone, and it will go away,’’ he said.

‘‘If it’s inside a shed or house, call a snake re­moval­ist.

‘‘A snake will only bite threat­ened.’’

To have a snake re­moved call NQ Wildlife Car­ers on 0414 717 374, na­tional parks on 1300 130372 (24 hours) or the Queens­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice.

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PET HOBBY . . . Jes­sica Bin­g­ley with a pet car­pet python and Dad Richard with an adult

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