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Lack of snakes in town

Thursday, 7th November, 2019

Broken Hill Snake Catchers’ Ash McInnes with a King Brown or Mulga snake ready for release near Umberumberka. PICTURE: Emily McInerney Broken Hill Snake Catchers’ Ash McInnes with a King Brown or Mulga snake ready for release near Umberumberka. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

By Emily McInerney

While local snake catchers have had a number of calls about snake sightings, overall there have been fewer.

“There’s actually been a significant decrease in snake sightings rather than an increase,” said Broken Hill Snake Catchers’ Ash McInnes. 

“This is due predominantly to how wildlife isn’t coping with the drought and through decades of miseducation and our perception of snakes.”

Ash said with the drought all wildlife was struggling.

“Our native wildlife are vital and they’re extremely important role in our ecosystem,” he said.

“The population of reptiles is going down due to the drought.”

But he said that as it warmed up there would be more snake sightings.

“This is the time of year they are out and about.”

Ash said snakes living in the city surrounds will fare better than those in the bush.

“They have water and food, they are intelligent enough to stay out of our way but the bush population is going down.

“In 2002/2003, we would receive 10 to 15 calls a week. These days we are lucky to get two or three a week.”

He said it was only when the animal feels threatened that may become aggressive or defensive.

“Never approach the snake. Keep at least three metres from the animal at all times,” Ash said.

“Have someone keep an eye on the area where the snake is and cover all exit routes (visually) to ensure that you know exactly where the snake is when we arrive. 

“Even if you take your eyes off it for a second to get a phone, it could be gone and the chances of finding it become very slim.

“The sooner you call, the sooner someone can be there.

“While you’re waiting for us to arrive, don’t prod and poke the area looking for the snake. 

“This will only agitate it and it will try to flee, or worse, it could defend itself.

“Never attempt to kill a snake. 

“A huge proportion of snake bites in Australia only occur because the person is trying to kill the animal. 

“Remember, this is a life or death situation for the animal, and it will react accordingly. Please don’t turn it into a life or death situation for you too.

Ash said snake catchers never minded being called to false alarms. 

“Over the years we’ve had call outs for lizards, rope, pipes, pythons and all sorts of things. This is OK. We’re here to help, 24/7.”

Ash said he had an interesting call last week and found a snake in a bag.

“A resident had trapped it in the bathroom. By the time I arrived, it had escaped and was busy exploring the master bedroom.

“It only took a few seconds to locate the snake because he had gone inside a bag and was rustling around.

“This snake was a very dark Eastern Brown with beautiful yellow flecks throughout his body - not only was he a very good looking example of an Eastern Brown, he was super calm and didn’t even care that I had caught him and placed him in a bag.

“As always, please be aware of your surroundings and follow the steps of what to do when you come across our slithering little friends. 

“They’re a super important part of our ecosystem, and incredibly fascinating creatures.”

If you spot a snake in your house or yard call snake catchers Ash 0448 873 666, Adam 0458 909 265 or Wayne 0423 920 370.

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