Snake sightings on the rise

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

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.

An eastern brown snake is poised to strike.
An eastern brown snake is poised to strike. David Barwell

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.”

A brown tree snake.
A brown tree snake. David Barwell

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, MrCutten 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, but they are not likely to chase.

Venomous and non-venomous snakes are not interbreeding to produce venomous pythons, it is not possible, and even closely related species are extremely unlikely to interbreed in the wild.

Topics:  python snakes snake season whitsunday

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