By Mitchell Clarke
A recent snake sighting at an Officer childcare centre is the latest reminder that snake season is officially upon us.
As the days become warmer, the slithery serpents are starting to emerge from their winter hibernation to bask in the sun and search for food and a mate.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) has issued a warning for communities living on Melbourne’s urban fringe to be vigilant.
DELWP senior wildlife management officer Rebecca Dixon said warmer weather increased the likelihood of snake sightings.
“Snakes are more common around the urban fringe of Melbourne, but they can also be found in suburbs, particularly around watercourses and parklands,” Ms Dixon said.
“There are a variety of different snakes found in the urban fridges and suburbs of Melbourne, with the tiger snake and eastern brown snake the most common.
“Both these species are highly venomous and dangerous to humans, but it is rare for them to bite people. Most snake bites occur when people try to capture or kill a snake.”
Cardinia snake catcher Corey Hudson said he had been called out to a number of sightings in the last few weeks.
Mr Hudson said he recently relocated a Copperhead in Officer, a Tiger Snake in Tynong and another Copperhead in Iona.
Social media has also been filled with posts of sightings around Pakenham and Kooweerup, however experts warn people to remain alert but not alarmed.
“Being aware that snakes may be around and being informed about how to react to them is very important at this time of year,” Ms Dixon said.
“Snakes are generally very shy and prefer to keep away from people and often when a snake is found in a backyard it’s because it’s moving through the area to other habitat.
“Snakes can be known to bite animals, such as dogs, if they feel threatened. If your dog or cat encounters 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.”
If you live in an area that is frequented by snakes, remember:
• When left alone, snakes present little or no danger to people.
• If you see a snake, calmly move yourself and anyone with you (including pets) away from the area if safe to do so.
• Don’t attempt to capture or harm snakes. All snakes are considered venomous and highly dangerous. Instead call DELWP on 136 186 for further advice or call a licensed snake catcher.
• Maintain lawns and clean up around your house, as snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, and building materials.
• Undertake first aid training and ensure your first aid kit contains several compression bandages, and if someone is bitten, call 000 immediately.
Snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to capture, harm, or kill them.
Reports of people wilfully destroying protected wildlife will be investigated by the Department accordingly.