Living in the Blue Mountains means you are living with snakes. Living with snakes means we should probably know a little bit more about them.
What do you do if you see one, what do you do if one bites you?
We had a snake encounter in our backyard last year, and I am ashamed to say I didn’t cope so well with it. I wanted to equip myself better so I could equip my children better come snake season this year. So I thought I would help equip you also.
I asked one of our local Reptile Enthusiasts- Lisa Cavanagh. Lisa is a Blue Mountains mum who is also a Senior Keeper for Herpetofauna (amphibians and reptiles) at Taronga Zoo, if she could equip us with some of the basic ‘Must knows’ so we can all be a little more aware of how to co-inhabit with the snakes living among us. She sent me a few facts and advise which I am really glad to be able to share with you.
A few facts about Snakes:
Snakes benefit our environment as they keep the rodent population down.
Snakes would prefer not to bite a human and inject their venom, venom is designed to kill their prey.
Australia has around 140 species of land snake, and 32 recorded species of sea snakes. The most dangerous snakes belong to the front-fanged group, which in our local area include the tiger snake, brown snake & death adder.
Australia is home to the most venomous snakes in the world, yet we have very minimal deaths per year, with as little as 2-5 per annum. Some 100 Australian snakes are venomous, although only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you.
Top 3 most venomous snakes in Australia 1 Inland Taipan, 2 Brown Snake 3 Coastal Taipan. 1 drop of venom from an inland taipan could kill around 250, 000, but has never killed a human. The Red Bellied Black snake as no recorded human deaths.
Snakes are venomous as they inject venom, they are not poisonous as you would have to ingest them.
The snake pictures supplied are a guide only, remembering not all Brown Snakes are brown, whilst most snakes are quite easy to identify the patterns and colours can vary in each species, as can personalities. Sometimes it may take a professional to identify a snake species based on head shape and scales rather than colours and patterns.
Sometimes it may be telling the difference between a snake and a lizard, one key difference is that a snake doesn’t have ears and lizards do, not that everyone is willing to get that close to find out
The following 6 snakes are some of the Venomous Snakes that you will find in the Blue Mountains, followed by some of our mildly venomous snakes.
Image 1- Brown Snake
Image 2- Juvenile Brown Snake
Image 1- Red Belly Black Snake
Image 2- Tiger Snake
Image 1- Highland Copperhead Snake
Image 2- Common Death Adder
The following 3 snakes are considered Mildly Venomous snakes found in ourBlue Mountains area…
First being a Yellow Faced Snake
Image 1- Broad Headed Snake Whip Snake
Image 2- Mustard Bellied Snake
Preventing Snakes from coming close to your home:
Ensure your lawns are mowed.
Don’t leave piles of wood, toys, bikes etc near the home for nice hidey holes.
Any water body close to the home can attract snakes, as we all have to drink, including dog and cat bowls, ponds, pool
Chicken coops attract snakes, some love to eat eggs and some are keen for a mice and rats that often hang around chicken coops.
Avoid leaving shoes at your doorsteps, they can make a nice little shelter.
A lot of children love reptiles, so educating them on wild snakes is very important. There are reptile books or my kids love watching Steve Irwin, he was a fantastic ambassador for reptiles and educating children.
Always teach your kids that reptiles are best admired from a distance, never pick up a reptile.
If they do cross paths with a snake, just walking away is the best they can do try not to run or over react to startle the snake.
Visiting zoos, wildlife parks etc is a great way for kids to learn more about reptiles, and often get some hands on encounters.
It is really important as part of life living in the Blue Mountains to understand snake first aid, as it can save yours or someone else’s life.
Apply a pressure immobilisation bandage and keep the person calm and as still as possible until medical help arrives. Avoid washing the bite area because any venom left on the skin can help identify the snake. DO NOT apply a tourniquet, cut the wound or attempt to suck the venom out. Never try to capture the snake to take to the hospital with you this can endanger more lives.
Always keep bandages available in the house, when you walk, in the glove box etc.
Living with snakes
Snakes are not naturally aggressive and always prefer to retreat. They will only attack humans if hurt or provoked and most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. If you come across a snake in the bush or your yard, just calmly walk the other way.
Obviously if you encounter a snake in your home or close to children or pets this can be more of a concern, there are trained professionals that may be able to assist you in the mountains, both of the following are highly trained and professional and charge a call out fee:
Troy Hovenden (The Reptile Bloke) – 0404 109 421
Neville Burns – 4759 1832
For volunteer rescuers contact WIRES on 1300 094 737, they will require you to have the snake in sight so that it’s a simple removal and they don’t have to go searching for it.
Thankyou to Lisa for this information.
I know I want to have a healthy respect for snakes. I also want my kids to know how to respect them and encounter them safely. Living in the Blue Mountains it is inevitable that we will come across them, so I hope you feel a little more prepared in how to approach co-existing with our slithery friends and who to call should you need some help.