There have already been a number of snake bites in WA this snake season, including several in our very own Wheatbelt. Melanie Rowley from the Department of Parks and Wildlife provides some tips and advice for staying safe around snakes.
Snakes are on the move and will be looking for food and warmth from their winter hiding spots. Snakes generally avoid humans if they can but people should take some basic precautions especially if they are involved in activities that may increase their chances of an encounter with snakes
What are some precautions I can take to avoid snakes?
- Be aware and take care in bushland and grassy areas
- Walk and /or cycle on cleared areas only
- When out bushwalking, wear long trousers and boots or other enclosed footwear that preferably covers the ankles to reduce the risk of being bitten
- Keep a watchful eye on the ground about a metre ahead of where you are walking and avoid entering areas of long grass, rushes and undergrowth
- Spring clean time around the house and property by keeping your yard clean of long grass (lawns mowed low) and items that provide cover such as stacks of timber, rocks, corrugated iron, compost heaps or discarded household items
- Aviaries and chook pens also attract mice which in turn attract snakes, so it is important to keep rodent numbers down by keeping bird enclosures cleans and using other control measures
- Dog owners are urged to take extra care when walking their beloved pets, as dogs rarely survive a venomous snake bite unless veterinary treatment is given as soon as possible
- Ensure that there is little opportunity for snakes to enter your home by keeping doors shut, fitting weather seals to doors and blocking any gaps or cracks
What are the most common snakes in the Wheatbelt area?
Most common seen snakes in the area are Dugites, Tiger, Gwarders, Brown and Gould snakes, these are venomous ones. Carpet pythons and stimsons are also seen but are not venomous.
Where am I most likely to come across snakes?
Snakes can hide anywhere, though depend on where the food source is.
What should I do if I see a snake?
If you sees a snake please leave it alone, do not aggravate it in any way and avoid the area. DO NOT attempt to catch it as this is when most bites occur when people accidentally step on snakes or whilst trying to kill them. Please contact Wildcare Helpline (08) 94749055 or your local Parks and Wildlife Office to be referred to a volunteer reptile remover. Note whilst trying to get into contact with a reptile removalist please keep an eye on the snake and its current location (from a distance).
Remember that snakes are protected by the Wildlife Conservation Act and by killing these animals without a valid reason can inflict hefty penalties. It is only when it constitutes an immediate danger to human life, farm stock or domestic animals and birds that particular reptiles can be killed.
What should I do if I get bitten by a snake?
If one gets bitten by the snake, the most important thing is themselves and seeking medical attention. Should the snake have been killed it does help for correct identification but there are universal antivenim that can be used. ENSURE FIRST AID TRAINING is up to date and seek medical attention as soon as possible.
If you have any further questions, leave them in the comments below and Mel will be happy to help. Thanks again to Mel Rowley for help in compiling this article.