Snakes active in spring

By Rodney Woods

Spring may be a normal time to see snakes but this year they are being seen more regularly.

With more snakes comes more chances for people to see them and paramedics were called to a Camp St property in Nathalia about 3.30pm on October 21, after reports of a snake bite.

The 73-year-old man was in and out of Shepparton’s Goulburn Valley Hospital within 24 hours after an injury to his leg.

Kyabram Fauna Park reptile handler and snake catcher Ben Barcham explained the prevalence of snakes this season was due to a certain rodent.

‘‘The reason there is more this season than others is mice,’’ Mr Barcham said.

‘‘We’ve had a massive problem at the park with mice. Once the mice are killed off, the snakes are killed off (go away).’’

Eastern browns, tigers and red-bellied blacks are the most common snakes in the region, but pythons have been seen by Kyabram snake catcher Craig Bergman.

‘‘I’ve had a couple (pythons) actually. One of the pythons I caught had come down with a family from Queensland, who brought it down with their belongings,’’ Mr Bergman said.

‘‘Occasionally they are seen near the Murray (River). They are not common but they are around.’’

Mr Barcham said snakes did not like wasting venom and would warn multiple times before attacking.

‘‘With the tiger, everything about them is a bluff,’’ he said.

‘‘They will do a fake strike, then (if you have not got the hint) a headbutt and then a dry bite.

‘‘Most bites are dry bites to warn you to bugger off.’’

With a call-out fee attached to a snake catcher, if you do phone them, the catchers are willing to hand out free advice.

‘‘They are either there for feed, water or shelter and are often just going past,’’ Mr Barcham said.

‘‘If you see a snake and you call a catcher, keep an eye on it until the catcher arrives.

‘‘Better still take the kids and pets inside and check the next day. If it’s still there, then call me back,’’ he said.

Mr Bergman agreed keeping sight of the snake was pivotal.

‘‘If people do see them keep an eye on them,’’ he said.

‘‘We do charge to come out so we’d rather catch it than for people to pay and not find it.’’

According to Mr Barcham, there is one reason they may stay around longer.

‘‘They may stay around longer if it’s shedding skin as they can’t see,’’ he said.

But despite the dangers that snakes can pose, Mr Barcham said ‘‘if it doesn’t fear you, it won’t bite’’.