Snakes on the move

The good news, if you like, is there are only 12 species of deadly Australian snakes. The bad news is, more snakes are out earlier this year thanks to the warmer weather.

Local snake-catchers are urging caution as snakes come out of hibernation and encounters between snakes and locals become more common.

Snakes go through a process called brumation which is not a full hibernation, but simply a state of reduced physiological activity and a lower body temperature, so even in winter, they will come out to get some sunlight, which explains the occasional snake sighting during the coldest months of the year.

We caught up with Broken Hill Snake Catchers to find out what’s happening and what you should do if faced with one of our slithery friends.

Broken Hill Snake Catchers’ Ash McInnes, said he offers a free snake catching service, not least because of the importance of snakes in the environment.

“Most snake catchers have service charges, many being hundreds of dollars. However, I offer the service for free,” he says.

Mr McInnes believes that by offering a free service, people don’t need to make the decision whether they can afford to call and pay for a service.

He wants to avoid people trying to kill the snake – a move he’s dead against.

“Killing wildlife in Australia is illegal and can incur large fines and jail time if prosecuted,” he points out.

“Sometimes, people don’t have the attitude of saving snakes’ lives, so we’d rather do it at our own expense. We’re all about conservation and education.”

Snakes normally don’t come out until September but high temperatures are causing the reptiles to wake earlier than usual.

Australia has around 140 species of snakes on the mainland, and 100 species are venomous. However, only 12 species can kill a person.

Eastern and western brown snakes are among the most common snakes found in Australia. They possess a very potent venom and, combined with innate aggressiveness, can paralyse and kill people if bites are not soon attended to by a medical professional.

Mr McInnes hasn’t had any potentially deadly run ins with local snakes and he works closely with fellow trainee snake catchers Zac Micallef and Ryan Chenowyth.

“Around 2017, I got in contact with Ash and became mates with him, he took me under his wing and taught me how to handle snakes safely, and I’ve been here helping ever since,” Mr Micallef said.

Trevor Jones, a ranger in Menindee, has recently become a certified snake catcher, and he too will be joining the team as the service’s contact in Menindee this spring.

Anyone who come across a snake are urged to call Ash on 0448 873 666, Zac on 0484 788 459, or Ryan on 0472 667 815. For Menindee sightings, call Trevor on 0427 914 440.

Follow them on Facebook and TikTok at Broken Hill Snake Catchers.

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