Australian Snake Encounter Secrets
Author: Chris Read Date Posted: 7 April 2018
What to do if you come across a snake in the wild. Even though most Australian snakes are harmless, wild snake encounters can strike fear into people. Understanding snakes such as what snakes eat can help people to feel safe and in control.
That’s A Brown Snake
My youngest son was recently playing in his tree-house by our local creek. He looked down from up high and pointed frantically and said, ”Dad is that a snake by your feet?” I looked down and sure enough found a brown coloured snake curled up on some old timber only a metre away. With young kids in mind, my first instinct was that the snake was the second most venomous snake in the world, the Eastern Brown.
What should I do? How do I remove this danger from my kids?
The snake didn’t move so I backed away slowly and then ran to get a camera telling my son to stay where he was. When I got back and looked at the snake again with calmer eyes, it was clear that it was in fact a harmless Keelback, also known as a Freshwater Snake. This snake is no danger to anyone. Two minutes before, I was convinced that I had a kid killer in our yard. I can only imagine how many harmless snakes have been harmed by people incorrectly thinking that they were protecting their family and pets.
Snakes in Australia
Australia is home to approximately 170 species of snakes, comprised of seven families. Most snakes are harmless and less than 10% are actually a serious risk to humans.
Snakes are fascinating and widely misunderstood creatures. Did you know that snakes can open their mouths up to 150 degrees? Amazingly this allows them to eat prey much bigger than their own head!
Snakes, including those being enchanted by snake charmers, react to the vibrations both in the air and on the ground. This ability allows them to sense other creatures approaching. They can also use their forked tongue to smell odours in the air.
These amazing senses allow snakes to avoid most people. Snakes strongest desire is to be left alone in the wild as they are shy and rarely genuinely aggressive, despite popular folklore.
Australian’s should really want to leave snakes alone since 21 of the world’s top 25 most venomous snakes are Australian. Fortunately, with modern snake education and anti-venom, fatal snake bites in Australia kill less than half of the people than die from falling out of bed. Most snake bites in Australia are clearly attributed to people’s risky or hostile behavior towards snakes.If you spend time in our great outdoors, you’ll want to know what to do if you encounter a snake.
Help! There’s a snake in my house! How can I keep my family safe?
Snakes are beautiful creatures that should be respected but not feared unnecessarily. Depending on where you live, you may even come across a snake in or around your home. Snakes can be attracted to your home as it can be a great source of both food and shelter.
If you do find a snake in or around your home, be sure not to touch or corner him. Snakes are defensive animals, not aggressive, and will feel no need to strike if they don’t feel threatened. Snakes that are encountered are most often harmless, but you should always keep your distance - treat all snakes with caution! Leave the snake alone, stand still and observe the snake from a safe distance. Keep your children and pets away. Snakes will often pass through the area on their own but if you want a quicker resolution, call a local snake catcher. They will be able to help you identify the snake and safely relocate him if necessary.
Remember despite popular belief, colour alone is not enough to safely identify a snake. An expert will be able to identify your snake by size, head and body shape, scale numbers, patterns, behaviours and colours.
What should I do if I think a snake is dangerous?
You should never harm a snake, even if you believe it to be dangerous. Snakes are a valuable part of the environment and are protected native animals with very heavy fines and even jail terms for people who harm snakes.
Snakes are an important part of our natural environment and a critical part of our biodiversity. Snakes, and other reptiles, are ‘middle-order’ predators, helping to keep Australia’s natural ecosystems working effectively.
They are also intelligent - with learning ability rivaling that of rats and birds. Snakes have even been observed successfully completing mazes and even opening doors!
How can I keep snakes away from my house?
Many people just accept that snakes are a part of the natural environment and appreciate having them around their homes. But if you do want to minimise snakes being near your home, the best ways are to reduce food and shelter opportunities for them.
Snakes are most commonly attracted to snake food sources such as rodents that are in turn attracted to rubbish, chook food and outdoor pet enclosures.
Keeping your yard tidy and well-maintained can reduce the attractiveness to both prey animals and snakes. Aviaries or outdoor pet enclosures should be snake-proofed, with any excess food or waste tidied away as soon as possible.
A few years ago, I was admiring the metal art on our lamp, something I had never noticed before but then the art moved. It took a moment to realise that a harmless and friendly Green Tree Snake had come in through the window and found a temporary home in the lamp. I was able to gently pick it up and let it go outside, a nice experience. If desired, entry points to your house can be blocked to reduce the likelihood of a snake being able to come inside. Screens could be installed on doors and windows and space between the roof and ceiling blocked. Snakes are more active in summer and will seek higher ground during heavy rain or flooding.
What is Herping?
Herpetology is the study of reptiles and amphibians. Herping is when amateur herpetologists go into the bush and search for reptiles and amphibians in the wild, a bit like bird watching. It is a hobby that is growing in popularity.
Can I have a snake as a pet?
Yes! Snakes are a wonderful choice for a pet and snake keeping is a great opportunity for kids and adults alike to get to know these amazing creatures.
A snake is a rewarding pet that really lets you get up close and personal with a snapshot of Australian wildlife. There are many kinds of snakes which are not dangerous and are suitable for children. Snakes are a long-term commitment and before deciding to bring one in to your family, please check our handy reptile information:
- Snake care sheet
- ‘The More the Merrier’ - keeping different kinds of pets together in harmony
- ‘What’s The Right Size Reptile Feeder for My Snake?’
- ‘7 Deadly Mistakes when Thawing Frozen Snake Food’
- PetWave Reptile supplies
PetWave supplies high quality snake food including frozen rats, frozen mice and frozen quails to reptile owners doors right across Australia.