Snakes about as spring sprouts

With the arrival of warmer spring weather the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is advising the community that snakes are on the move and people should give them plenty of space.

King Brown Snake (Pseudechis australia)

NPWS Wildlife Management Officer Geoff Ross said today that like the gardeners and bushwalkers amongst us snakes are beginning to emerge after lying low over the colder winter months.

"Now is the time that snakes emerge to hunt for prey such as mice, frogs and small lizards to replenish fat reserves lost over the winter months,” Mr Ross said.

“Rivers, creeks, farms and bush urban interfaces are likely habitats for snakes, which means that residents may come into contact with them as the snakes move around searching for food and sun themselves.

“It is important that people take care, particularly when participating in outdoor activities such as gardening, fishing or bushwalking.

“We share our space with a variety of wildlife and venomous wildlife like snakes and spiders deserve our respect so give them a wide berth.

“Snakes are not naturally aggressive and prefer to retreat. They usually only attack humans when provoked or injured. In fact, more than 90% of all snakebites in Australia occur when people try to pick up or kill a snake. The best policy is to simply leave them alone.”

Australia has approximately 140 species of land snake, with some 100 considered venomous, although only 12 are likely to inflict a life-threatening bite.

The most dangerous snakes belong to the front-fanged group, which in NSW include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder, mulga or king brown snake.

All snakes in NSW are protected under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974.

 "If one enters your yard, leave it alone and move out of its way. The general rule of thumb is to be aware that it’s snake season and to take the necessary precautions” Mr Ross said.

"If people are looking to keep snakes out of their backyards, I would advise them to keep the area tidy and the lawn mowed, so as to avoid providing places where snakes might take shelter or hunt for rats or mice.”

 To have a snake safely removed safely from a property call local wildlife care organisation, a licensed pest control operator or your local NPWS Office.

 Tips and safeguards for being ‘snake wise’ include:

  • All snakes should be treated as if they are venomous.
  • Do not try to catch or kill a snake – 90% of snakebites occur when people attempt to catch or kill snakes. Children especially should to be taught not to attempt to pick up or harm snakes.
  • If you see a snake give it plenty of space to make an escape – snakes will usually only attack if they feel threatened or trapped.
  • Clean up potential habitats around the home, such as aviaries, dog kennels and poultry pens where food attracts mice, and in turn the smell of mice attracts snakes.
  • Remove debris and clutter from yards, keep lawns mowed and slash tall grass along fences.
  • Ensure gaps under doorways are sealed and any holes or gaps in walls fixed. 
  • Wearing long pants and solid footwear will provide some protection when bush walking or working outdoors.
  • Call Triple 0 immediately in the event of a bite.

Contact: Danielle Schwerin