Pet lizard sparks lifelong passion
FOR wildlife controller Jeff Davies, dealing with dangerous snakes and animals isn’t just an everyday job, it’s a way of life.
The owner of North East Wildlife Control has had an adrenaline fuelled career spanning more than 40 years, with his interest in wildlife beginning at a young age.
“It all started with a blue tongue lizard and just grew from there,” he said.
“I had one then got a second one and the collection just grew...I had 15 tortoises at one stage.
“I got involved with snake catching in NSW and in those days it was voluntary, and then got involved with wildlife rescue.”
Jeff said it wasn’t until he would eventually move to Victoria that his dream would turn into a reality, with his operation now covering the majority of the Hume region.
“I moved to Victoria and turned a hobby into an occupation, I’m now living in Benalla and been there for two years,” he said.
“I run it 24-7, it could be quarter to one in the morning and I’ll get a call for a tiger snake in a nursing home and all sorts of stuff.”
He said it is this aspect of the job that always keeps it interesting and never knowing what the next day will bring.
“Basically if I get a call I’m off that’s it, the other morning it was for an eastern brown snake at the Benalla Performing Arts and Convention Centre,” he said.
“Or it could be an echidna that was trapped under some concrete which I had the other morning, you never know what it’s going to be.”
Although he has encountered thousands of bizarre incidents during his career, there is one occasion which has topped his list.
“An eastern brown snake had popped its head up from under a bonnet of a car doing 110kph on the Hume Freeway,” he said.
“It was just before Christmas last year and a mother and daughter were in the car and they were confident it was a baby.
“It certainly wasn’t a baby, it was about a metre and half long.
“The snake had decided to come up and do some Christmas shopping with them.”
He said even though he is licenced to catch just about anything in Australia, from crocodiles to cockatoos, he most enjoys dealing with snakes.
“A lot of it is snakes, most of the snakes that we get in our area are what they call elapid snakes, which are front fanged and highly venomous,” he said.
“So people don’t want them around, which is totally understandable, it’s a lot safer to pay us to come deal with them rather trying to kill or dispatch them yourself.
“You upset those things you are more than likely going to get bitten.”
Apart from the dangerous encounters and close calls, he continues to love all animals with a particular fondness for wombats.
“I have a real soft spot for wombats, years ago I had a wombat adopt me, it just turned up after I had come from a weekend away,” he said.
“The wombat was just having a bit of a snooze in my garden and turns out it had actually made a home for himself under the house.”
◆ THE SNAKE CHARMER: Jeff Davies has had a life time of experience with deadly and dangerous animals.
◆ WILDLIFE EXPERT: North East Wildlife Control owner Jeff Davies with his trusted tools of the trade for catching snakes.