Listen: Jarrod Prangle (pictured above) chats to Graeme Burrill.
For Sydneysiders who live near bushland, now is the time of year when you’re more likely to see snakes in your backyard – but don’t panic, says expert Jarrod Prangle.
Jarrod, a reptile keeper at Sydney Wildlife Park, chatted to Hope 103.2’s Graeme Burrill about staying safe around snakes in the spring and summer. Surprisingly, his biggest tip is not to panic, and to remember snakes are actually quite safe.
Of the 15 different types of common snakes around the Sydney region, there are only a handful you’re likely to see, as many are nocturnal and very small. Snakes you might spy in your backyard or on a bushwalk include:
- Red belly black snakes
- Eastern Brown snakes
- Common tree (Green) snakes
- Brown tree snakes
But while some of these are very venomous, there is no need to panic or go into “killing mode”.
“It’s wrong to describe a snake as aggressive. They’re defensive. The only time you’ll see it defend itself is when you invade its personal space.”
“If you back onto national park or bushland, the chances of seeing a snake in your backyard are very high,” said Jarrod. “But if you do see one, it’s not a problem; the best thing is to just leave it alone.”
“Take a photo if you like to send it to a zoo, or a wildlife park, to identify it. But the last thing you want to do is try to pick it up or try to kill it. That’s the most dangerous thing you can do. It’s wrong to describe a snake as aggressive. They’re defensive. The only time you’ll see it defend itself is when you invade its personal space.”
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In fact most people who come to hospitals with a snake bite are people who have tried to do just that.
How to Keep Snakes Away
Snakes are more likely to appear in the spring because they’ve just come out of winter hibernation and are seeking food – and girlfriends! In the summer, they’ll generally retreat as the sun gets too hot.
If you’re keen to keep your backyard clear of snakes, Jarrod suggests the following tips:
- Keep you backyard clear of rubbish
- Keep your lawns mowed and short
- Remove any large sources of water you don’t need, such as a wading pool that hasn’t been packed away.
Large water sources like a pond, can bring snakes out as they are foraging for frogs; but the theory that a leaking tap can bring snakes out, is a myth, said Jarrod.
It’s also a myth that stomping loudly will scare snakes away; in fact if you see one, it’s probably heard you coming (by sensing vibrations on the ground) long before you saw it.
What to do If Bitten by a Snake
In the rare circumstance that someone is bitten by a snake, there are three steps you should follow:
- Sit the person down and get them to relax
- Place a compression bandage on the affected limb
- Call 000 and follow professional advice.
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