Snake catcher sees surge in eastern browns in region
WHITSUNDAYS snake catcher Neil Cutten has already captured around four times the number of venomous eastern browns this season compared with the same time last year.
Mr Cutten, a licensed snake catcher who works with his son Adam, said he had caught and relocated about 18-20 of the potentially dangerous snakes.
“Last year I had about four or five eastern browns. We’re in the last part of the season now and the mating season is pretty much over,” he said this week.
“We’ve had a bumper season for eastern browns this year. Adam has had six in two months including at Proserpine, Strathdickie, Cannonvale and Preston.”
He said he wasn’t sure why there had been a rise in eastern brown snakes in the region, but they had included smaller 300mm snakes and larger 900mm sub-adults.
“Normally by the time they’re around 900mm they’re an adult. The average size of an eastern brown would be 700mm-900mm.
“The biggest problem at the moment is that it’s extremely dry and I’m advising people to put containers of water around their property and around the house.
“Otherwise, if the snakes get thirsty and they’re looking for water, they’ll come in and have a drink out of the pond, pool or dog’s drinking dish.”
He said encounters between snakes and dogs could be fatal for either animal or for both.
“The dog sees it as a challenge and usually one or both of them loses the fight so we’ve got to be extremely careful.”
Other snakes seen in the region have included lots of tree snakes and two- to three-metre long pythons.
“The law is that you’re not allowed to touch them so the best advice is if you see a snake and it’s outside and not going to cause a concern just leave it and it will more than likely move on,” he said.
“If it’s inside or close to the house call a snake catcher.”
He said tree snakes would venture inside seeking wet spaces or food such as tree frogs, geckos or mice.
“They’re not looking for trouble or looking to bite humans. They will only bite in defence of their own life.
“If they’re scared or frightened they’ll latch on and the only defence they have is their mouth.
“If you don’t know what it is, don’t touch it, or if you think it’s dangerous don’t touch it.”
Some people would try to tackle handling a venomous snake themselves, but that was when they most often were bitten, Mr Cutten said.
“We had one guy who picked up what he thought was a tree snake but it was a juvenile taipan and it bit him, and it was very nearly fatal.
“A lot of people think the only good snake is a dead snake and they often wind up getting bitten when trying to deal with it themselves.”
He said an image of a snake could be sent to the snake catcher to help with identification.
Next month, the babies will start hatching, including baby browns.
“Earlier this year, I relocated six baby browns out of one property in the space of two days. Obviously they had hatched nearby.
“The mum leaves once they’ve hatched and the babies fend for themselves. Eastern brown babies are about 20cm long and as thick as a pencil, and they had all shed their skin and were therefore as deadly as their mum.”
Mr Cutten, who also helps with wildlife rescues of other animals, said children should be taught to never touch a snake and to find and tell an adult if they see one.
Clean backyards, he said, provided less opportunity for snakes to hide on properties.
In the Whitsundays, the most common snakes are brown tree snakes, common tree snakes and spotted pythons, which are known to eat juvenile venomous and non-venomous snakes.
Other commonly relocated species include scrub pythons and carpet pythons.
Neil and Adam Cutten are available 24 hours a day; Neil can be contacted on 0429 425 773 and Adam on 0473 375 571. Other local catchers can be found on the SnakesoftheWhitsundays Facebook page.