Even though the  weather is now starting to become cooler, because the drought has not yet broken,  many of our native animals and birds are still displaying behaviour more often seen in spring and summer; trees are flowering, birds are nesting, possums are mating, grass is growing, and of course, snakes are still moving around in search of food and mates, and basking in the warm sunshine. Beacuse of the long drought, many animals, including snakes , are finding it harder to find their natural food and are being forced to forrage closer to houses and farms.This makes the possibility of an encounter with a smake a little more likely for us all.

If you should encounter a snake in your garden, what species is it likely to be? Will it be venomous? And what should you do? The  species you are most likely to encounter in Mt. Evelyn and its environs are the Tiger snake, Copperhead  snake, Red bellied black snake, or the smaller Eastern small eyed snake or the White-lipped snake, which only grows to about 40 cms.

These snakes are all venomous and to avoid snake bite, should only be handled by a licensed snake handler. Ninety five percent of all snake bites occur when inexperienced people are either trying to  catch or kill snakes. It’s much better to leave that to the experts.

Licensed snake handlers can be contacted by calling either Healsville Sanctuary, Melbourne Zoo, The Department ofEnvironment and Sustainability , Shire of Lilydale Offices, or the Police. They will send someone who will remove the snake.

Snakes, by nature are fairly timid creatures and would much prefer to avoid contact than face conflict. If given a chance snakes will usually retreat from danger. If, however, they do bite, it will either be because they feel threatened in some way, or  for food, in which case its prey will be an animal small enough for it to swallow whole :- even the smallest human is too big for that.

If you are unfortunate enough to be bitten by a snake, with modern medicine and technology, you are extremely unlikely to die as long as you follow a few simple rules.

Firstly- Don’t Panic!  Don’t wash the area where the snake bite has occurred, -Doctors  will be able to identify the snake by traces of venom left around the wound, and administer the appropriate anti-venom if necessary. Bandage the whole limb with a firm bandage and keep it very still, using a sling or splint if possible. And lastly, get the injured person to a hospital as quickly as  possible.

If you don’t wish to encounter a snake in your garden, a few simple measures can minimise the risk. Keep your grass cut ; don’t leave piles of rubbish lying around; e.g. sheets of tin, piles of wood etc.. These make natural shelters for snakes. If you do have a wood pile, for your open fire, be aware that snakes may shelter there, and be cautious when moving wood which has been left  undisturbed for some time.

Lastly, remember that snakes are an asset to our environment. They mostly live on mice, rats and small mammals and birds. They are protected under the Flora and Fauna act and it is illegal to kill a snake. By taking a few simple precautions, humans, domestic pets and snakes can live together in this beautiful environment, which we all love, but sometimes take too much for granted.