The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has issued a snake warning to the Mitchell and Macedon Ranges shires as snake season has started early this year due to warmer-than-usual weather bringing them out of hibernation.
Wandong-based snake removalist Anthony Calleja said he had received calls from people with snakes in their homes across the Mitchell, Macedon and Murrindindi shires since early August.
“It starts about October but they’re early this year. Even though we’ve had wet weather it’s been a bit mild so they started about a month ago,” he said.
Snakes can be found anywhere, day or night, especially near water sources like creeks, dams or drains, and sunny places like train lines.
The department’s senior wildlife management officer, Belinda Cant said when snakes were left alone, they presented little to no danger to people, so the best thing to do was stay well away.
“Snakes are generally very shy and prefer to keep away from people and often when a snake is found in a backyard it’s because it’s moving through the area to other habitat,” she said.
“Most snake bites occur when people try to capture or kill a snake.”
Snakes are native and protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to harm or kill them or capture them without authority.
“Unfortunately people get a little bravado with them and want to hit them with a spade and that’s when it gets ugly,” Mr Calleja said.
“When they bite they hurt – it’s like a dog bite with 1000 teeth.”
Mr Calleja said while snakes bites were uncommon if people behaved responsibly, people needed to keep an eye on their pets as a dog’s or cat’s natural hunting or inquisitive instincts meant they could intimidate a snake.
“There’s already been many dogs and cats bitten this season – in the dozens – and it’s only going to escalate until January,” he said.
“And it’s costly; if a dog or cat gets bitten by a snake it’s minimum $2000 [at the vet] and that doesn’t mean it’s going to survive either. It’s really important if dogs or cats start acting strangely or start to bark differently to be aware.”
Experts advise if people see a snake on their property, don’t attempt to capture or scare it off.
Instead call DELWP on 136 186 for advice, or call a snake catcher such as Anthony Calleja on 0413 592 398 for a removal.
Other measures people can take are to maintain lawns and clean up around their house, as snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, and building materials.
First aid training and a home first aid kit that contains several compression bandages can be lifesaving. If someone is bitten, call triple zero immediately.