Snake safety this summer


Snakes love to slither out of their hiding spots and into our backyards during the summer months. During snake season, Canberrans are urged to be mindful when out and about.

According to ACT Conservator Ian Walker, Eastern brown snakes are most frequently seen across Canberra from October until March.

“While they are highly venomous, they are naturally shy and will only strike when provoked,” Mr Walker said.

“If you do come across a snake, the best approach is not to catch or kill them, as harassing the reptile may cause it to defend itself by striking,” he said, as the weather started to heat up in October.

“It’s also timely to remind people that snakes are a protected species, and under the Nature Conservation Act it is an offence to capture, harm or kill them.”

If you do come across a snake, remember:

  • When left alone, snakes present little danger to people and animals.
  • If you see a snake, move pets and children away until the snake moves off.
  • When bushwalking, let friends or family know where you’re going, wear enclosed shoes, take a backpack with a first aid kit and be alert at all times.
  • Keep gardens, sheds and aviaries well maintained.
  • Don’t attempt to capture or kill snakes, instead call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 for further advice, or call a licensed snake catcher.

Pets and snakes can often clash as well, with dogs in particular susceptible to snake encounters.

PETstock veterinarian Dr Hay Chung said in summer, snakes are likely to be found in search of water, food and shelter.

“It is important for dog owners to always remain vigilant as depending upon the species of snakes, the time of the day or the season that they are most active can vary. It is becoming increasingly common for dogs to encounter snakes in or around their own homes in suburban environments,” Dr Chung said.

“The warning signs of a snake bite can vary and are time sensitive: weakness, not walking straight to collapse, loss of bladder or bowel control, blood in urine, rapid and shallow breathing, bleeding from snake bite wound.”

Dr Chung said the best way to avoid a pet snake bite at home is to:

  • Minimise the places snakes can hide in; clear undergrowth, fill holes in the ground, and mow the lawn regularly.
  • Rodents can attract snakes, so make sure you have nothing in the house that may attract rodents, such as spilled food.
  • Know who to call when you notice a snake in your house. Do not attempt to capture a snake yourself.
  • Do not let your dog examine a dead snake as the venom may still be active on the fang or it may not actually be dead.

And outside the house:

  • Keep your dog on leash at all times.
  • Do not let them explore holes or dig under rocks.

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