Pet lizard sparks life­long pas­sion

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - North East Regional Extra - - FRONT PAGE - By NICK SINIS

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.

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