By Jessica Anstice
The arrival of spring weather means people are getting outdoors at the same time that snakes are starting to become more active and visible.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) Gippsland program manager environmental compliance, Peter Simpson, said snakes are emerging from their winter hibernation to bask in the sun and to search for food and a mate.
“The recent sunny weather also means more people are spending time enjoying the outdoors and it is quite possible they’ll encounter a snake,” Mr Simpson said.
Eastern Brown snakes, Tiger snakes, Lowland Copperheads and Red Bellied Black snakes are all encountered in the Gippsland region, usually around wetlands, creeks and rivers.
“These species are all highly venomous, but it’s rare for them to bite people with most snake bites occurring when people try to capture or handle a snake,” he said.
“When disturbed, snakes are known to bite animals. So, if you are a pet owner and encounter a snake, the best course of action is to remove your pet from the area or tie it up while the snake passes.
“If you suspect your pet has been bitten take it to a vet immediately.
According to Mr Simpson, snakes are generally very shy and prefer to keep away from people.
“They are often found in backyards because they are moving through the area on their way to other habitat,” he explained.
“Being aware that snakes may be around and being informed about how to react to them is an important aspect of managing snake encounters.”
Some key points to remember about living in or visiting an area with snakes:
• If you see a snake – keep calm and try to move yourself, anyone with you and your pets away from the snake.
• Never touch or attempt to capture or hurt a snake – instead call DELWP customer service centre on 136 186 who will provide you advice or put you in contact with your nearest licensed snake catcher.
• Have a spring clean – clean up around the house and cut lawns regularly. Snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal or building materials.
• Undertake first aid training and ensure your first aid kit contains several compression bandages. If someone is bitten call 000 immediately.
Snakes play an important role in the ecosystem and are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975.
It is illegal to capture, harm, or kill them.