Snakes Spotted in South Brisbane (and what to do if you see one)
With spring coming into full swing, many species of snakes are becoming increasingly active. Sightings of snakes, such as the carpet python are increasing due to their quest for mating, and some residents may even witness male to male combat at this time of year. Furthermore, when the weather is dry and warmer, snakes are always more active and on the hunt for food, and during the rain and hotter times, residents may experience more up close and personal sightings as snakes take refuge indoors. The most commonly encountered snakes of South Brisbane include; the Eastern brown snake, the Red-bellied black snake, the Coastal carpet python, the Common tree snake, the Yellow faced whip snake and the White crowned snake. Our residential animal control team relocated 14 King Brown Snakes last season alone!
Some significant recent sightings and capture include an 11kg, 3.5 metre snake from a roof at Sunnybank and a pair of males fighting in a backyard in Carindale. Venomous snakes include Red bellied black snakes, with a 1.5 metre snake found in a basement and two black snakes found under a sheet of timber in someone’s backyard in Salisbury. There have also been many sightings of brown snakes in the area, with the majority measuring around 1.2 metres.
An interesting sighting in January 2018 was that of a three metre carpet python hanging from a tree in a resident’s front garden, slowly devouring a possum. The resident was reportedly scared but amazed as she watched the spectacle up close. The snake catcher who was called to the scene stated that this was not uncommon and is called out to at least two dozen possum jobs per season.
Warmer temperatures in the month of July 2018 have caused an increase in sightings in the area generally, with a resident finding a carpet python, measuring over 3 metres long sunning himself on a palm tree the other side of his garden fence. The python reportedly remained there for the day and decided to disappear when the temperature of the day became cooler. And on the weekend another resident encountered a large carpet python crossing the road.
Snake sightings are common and on the increase year by year, with paramedics reporting from September 2016 to February 2017 that they responded to 34 snake bite incidences in the South Brisbane area, up from 20 during the same time the previous year and 21 from the year before that. A snake catcher for this area stated that this yearly increase is due to favourable breeding seasons, with success often following on from the previous one.
Given that 21 of the 25 most poisonous snakes in the world live in Australia, it is important that people are very careful when they do not know what species of snake they are encountering, and also to understand how to be safe during an encounter.
What you should do if you encounter a snake
These are a few tips to help you remain calm and deal with the situation in the safest manner:
- Don’t panic. Remember that a snake is unlikely to approach you unless provoked or threatened in some way. Most of the time, a snake will retreat to a nearby safe haven and on occasion will lie still in the hope that you will go away. So try to remain calm and do not cause the snake to feel threatened.
- Keep your eyes on the snake. If you think you may want it identified, if possible ask someone to grab a camera and take a picture from a safe distance. Some fast moving species, such as the Eastern brown snake or the Common tree snake will usually head for cover as soon as you leave the area.
- Remember that no snake that is left alone will cause you harm, so keep people and pets a safe distance away from it. If a snake feels threatened by close interaction, it is much more likely to attack. To put this into perspective, 95% of snake bites occur when people try to catch or kill them. So do not put yourself or anyone else in unnecessary danger.
- If you feel that the snake requires relocation then you should call your local snake catcher to deal with the situation. If the snake is inside your home or workplace, it is imperative where possible to constantly monitor its whereabouts until the snake catcher arrives. If this is not possible, wedge a damp towel under the closed door of the room in which the snake is in, to prevent escape into the rest of the building. This gives the snake catcher the best chance of locating the snake. However, snakes can hide in many inaccessible places in one room, sometimes making it impossible to find, even by a professional. So a constant watchful eye is always the best method wherever possible.
- Snakes found outside will most likely vacate the premises of their own accord. Many snakes come and go unnoticed without incident, so nothing should change just because you have seen them.
- Lastly, it is important to have the number of your local 24 hour licensed snake catcher ready, just in case you encounter any surprise visitors. Go to the 24 hour snake catchers directory to access the information of the licensed snake handlers in your area.
What to do if someone suffers a snake bite:
- Call Triple Zero immediately (000).
- Do not wash the wound. The hospital may need to test the wound to identify the species of snake, in order to administer the correct medication.
- Bandage around the wound tightly, without causing restriction of blood flow. If possible this should be undertaken with a thick gauze bandage and then a pressure bandage. Start from above the fingers or toes of the affected limb and work your way up, including the site of the bite. Then splint the limb to keep it straight.
- Keep the person as calm as possible as this will help to minimise the venom spreading around the body.
- If possible take a picture of the snake from a safe distance. This will help the hospital identify the species of snake.