SNAKE SEA­SON AR­RIVES

Now is the time to take pre­cau­tions

Whitsunday Times - - FRONT PAGE - Tessa Map­stone

WHILE Neil Cut­ten would pre­fer to be set­tled in for the night, the call of na­ture has been get­ting him back to work.

Twice in three nights, the Air­lie Beach snake catcher has been phoned late in the evening to re­move pythons look­ing for a feed around a bird aviary at the home of a wildlife carer.

“Snakes don’t keep of­fice hours, they crop up at the most in­op­por­tune times,” Mr Cut­ten said.

With mat­ing sea­son in full swing, snake catch­ers have been see­ing plenty of snakes of all species on the move, from pythons to eastern browns.

“They’re on the wan­der look­ing for a mate,” he said.

“The fe­males are ac­tively hunt­ing be­cause once they lay their eggs, they won’t eat un­til the eggs hatch.”

Mr Cut­ten said snakes would also be look­ing for shel­ter, like the one that was “ham­mer­ing” on Wood­wark res­i­dent Re­nae Sharp’s glass door last month.

Ms Sharp posted videos to Face­book of the per­sis­tent brown snake search­ing for a way to get in­side.

Ex­tremely dry weather might also bring the rep­tiles close to homes in search of wa­ter.

“Some­body posted a video on an­other site where they put out a wa­ter dish for a dog and an eastern brown snake came out of the shad­ows and stuck its head in the wa­ter dish and started drink­ing,” he said.

“It drank for about five min­utes.”

Sim­ply putting saucers of wa­ter around prop­erty bound­aries might help keep thirsty snakes away from homes and pets, as well as of­fer­ing some re­lief to the de­hy­drated wildlife, Mr Cut­ten said.

While snakes were most ac­tive from Septem­ber to Novem­ber, snake han­dler David Bar­well said they would still be about through the warmer months, so peo­ple needed to re­main alert.

“Now is the time to clean up your yards,” he said.

“Don’t give them some­where to hide and they are un­likely to hang around.

“Re­move food scraps, bird seed etc, any­thing that at­tracts ro­dents and in turn at­tracts snakes.

“Teach your kids if they see any snake to stay still for a few mo­ments, then back away slowly and go tell an adult.

“Never try to catch or kill it. Move kids and pets in­doors and call a li­censed catcher to have it re­moved safely.

“If safe to do so, try to get a photo and post it to Snakes of the Whit­sun­days on Face­book for iden­ti­fi­ca­tion.

“Re­mem­ber: leave them alone and they will leave you alone.”

Bust­ing com­mon mis­con­cep­tions about snakes, Mr Cut­ten said de­spite what some peo­ple be­lieve, ven­omous snakes can in fact climb if there is food, wa­ter or shel­ter avail­able, just like non-ven­omous snakes.

Some snakes, like eastern browns, are thought to be ag­gres­sive, but Mr Cut­ten said they are in fact de­fen­sive. If peo­ple get too close for com­fort, they may strike to de­fend them­selves.

They’re on the wan­der look­ing for a mate.

— Neil Cut­ten

CLOSE-UP: Snake han­dler David Bar­well takes strik­ing im­ages of snakes he re­lo­cates.

PHO­TOS: DAVID BAR­WELL

A brown tree snake.

An eastern brown snake is poised to strike.

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