2 December 2022

Snakes on the slither as recent deluge flushes them out

| Sally Hopman
Start the conversation

Yass Valley snake catcher Skott Williamson was called out to remove this brown snake, one of five, near a Yass house, recently. Photo: Skott Williamson.

People living in both rural and city areas are being warned to be extra vigilant with an increase in snakes spotted after the recent floods.

With some rural properties left like islands and country towns hit by an avalanche of water, the NSW Farmers Association has reported an increase in snake sightings as the floodwaters force the reptiles on to higher ground.

Sarah Thompson from the NSW Farmers Association’s Rural Affairs Committee said the spike in snake numbers coincided with increased activity generally in the bush as summer grew closer.

“Just yesterday one of our members said she saw three black snakes near her place in a really short space of time, and it’s been like this for a while,” Mrs Thompson said. “They’re just trying to escape the water like we all are.

READ ALSO Pssst: why you don’t have to be scared of snakes – they’re more frightened of you

“It’s a worry because people with dogs or who are going out to move stranded livestock are at a higher risk of being bitten.”

She said the other issue was that with many rivers up, people were finding it hard to access vets.

“This is happening everywhere , we’ve heard recently about livestock being lost to snakes because some farms are more like islands than paddocks and they can’t get to a vet.

“We know snakes aren’t generally trying to hurt us or our animals, but coming closer together because of flooding increases the risk of an attack for humans and animals. People just need to use some common sense, keep an eye out and be careful.”

Yass Valley region snake catcher Skott Williamson said he had been called out to move snakes on more often than usual, also attributing it to the weather – and “because snakes always follow their prey, rodents”.

“We tend to see them more due to human encroachment rather than there actually being a larger quantity of snakes,” he said.

“Blacks and tigers do prefer the water, but browns will readily take advantage of the weather.”

He said wet weather did not deter snakes from hunting, provided the temperature was warm enough – and that snakes “are excellent swimmers”.

“I have had plenty of call-outs recently, even in the heart of Yass town. Unfortunately, we inadvertently create some wonderful environments for snakes, due to piling up refuse or building materials in our yards. Even low-lying plants can provide shelter and cover for snakes.”

tiger snake

More tiger snakes have been sighted recently following the recent torrential rain. Photo: Australian Museum.

Mike Coley from Gunning, who has been that village’s snake catcher for more than 20 years, said his most recent call-out was, unsually, at night, when a couple up near the Gunning Showground, reported seeing a tiger snake in their shed.

“I went up there and poked around a bit, then I saw it. It was a smallish one and it just looked at me – then it did a runner under the rib part of the shed,” Mr Coley said. “But luckily for me, it left a little bit of its tail out so I could catch it and put it in a bag.

“It was a very pretty one, with lots of orange stripes.”

Mr Coley said after floods, people were more likely to see tigers and black snakes rather than browns, but warned that they were all dangerous and should be left to the experts.

The Australian Reptile Park estimates that more than 3000 snakebites occur in Australia each year, with about 10 per cent requiring antivenom.

If you are bitten by a snake, keep calm and immobile, remove all jewellery, apply a pressure-immobilisation bandage to the bite site and wrap the whole limb. Call an ambulance or go directly to hospital.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Do you like to know what’s happening around your region? Every day the About Regional team packages up our most popular stories and sends them straight to your inbox for free. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.