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Snakes Alive! Be alert but not alarmed

It’s that time of the year when we all get a spring in our step. Wildlife is on the move too. From a safety perspective, we should all be alert to unexpectedly coming across a venomous snake. Snakes are shy creatures and are more fearful of us than the other way around.

Wildcare has close to 100 snake handler volunteers across the region, who can advise and help relocate a snake that’s in the wrong place. But better to be prepared and let these wonderful animals move away without interference.

Wayne (see photo), Wildcare’s Snake Coordinator, has some great tips to keep you safe “With the warmer weather, snakes are going to start to come out of their winter hibernation. They will warm themselves, become active and search for food and mates. Be aware that browns and red-bellies are widespread in our region.

And around Bungendore/Wamboin, tigers are common too. Expect the unexpected and dress appropriately when walking through undergrowth, farming, gardening or pottering – jeans, boots, gloves when gardening, provide some protection, as snake fangs are quite short (2-5mm). Be careful at night and ensure you can see what’s around.

“It’s a good idea to keep the surrounds of the house, yard and outbuildings clear of rubbish and reduce debris to minimise snake hiding spots. This allows you to see what is around. Mice and rats, attracted to loose grain, will bring snakes. If you have water features, these attract frogs – which bring snakes too.

Bird netting can be a problem and if possible raise it off the ground to stop a snake becoming trapped. When gardening, know where your hands are going and wear gloves. Dogs and cats should ideally be kept under control and not allowed to wander over large areas where they can seek out snakes. Ensure a snake doesn’t enter the house through an open door or window.

“In short, the risk of encountering a snake can be reduced by being alert to their behavior and having a good old tidy up, so you can see them. Snakes are shy and defensive and will move away if allowed to.”

Wayne goes on to say “When outside, it is a good idea to let others know where you are and carry a mobile phone. Carry a compression bandage, including in the car.

What to do if bitten

If you do happen to get bitten, be calm. Staying still is important, as venom is transferred via the lymph system, which is pumped by muscle movement.

If you do happen to get bitten, be calm. Staying still is important, as venom is transferred via the lymph system, which is pumped by muscle movement.

Don’t move and the venom will move slower through your body. Using a compression bandage with immobilisation will give you several hours before experiencing any ill effects. Hospitals have test kits to identify a venom type – so there is no need to catch, kill or identify the snake!

Trying to kill a snake is fraught with danger, as they will feel threatened and defend themselves by attacking. Do not clean the bite area. Wrap a bandage over the bite, to the end of the limb, and back up to the groin/armpit. Mark the bite area. Immobilise the limb and the patient. Call 000 and bring the ambulance to the patient.”

 

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