Conditions ripe for snake explosion

WARRNAMBOOL licensed snake catcher Scott Grant expects to be busy over the next few months after good rains have left the reptiles with plenty of prey.

Mr Grant said he had already received about six calls to retrieve snakes since mid-September and expected that would spike when there is a consistent run of warm weather.

“We have had wet years for the last few years and there are plenty of frogs and other smaller food sources about for them,” he said.

Mr Grant usually catches between 30-60 snakes each season around Warrnambool, most of them tiger snakes and copperheads.

With snakes now on the move, the Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) has reminded people of what to do if they encounter one.

* If you see a snake, keep calm and try to move yourself, anyone with you and your pets away to a safe distance;

* Never touch or attempt to capture or hurt snakes. Instead, call DSE on 136 186 for advice or call a licensed snake catcher;

* Have a spring clean around the house and cut lawns regularly. Snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal or building materials;

* Undertake first aid training, ensure your first aid kit contains several compression bandages, and if someone is bitten, call 000 immediately;

* Snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act. It is illegal to capture, kill or harm them. Bites can occur when people try to kill snakes.

Meanwhile, senior scientist Nick Clemann from the DSE’s Arthur Rylah Institute recently revealed his findings about a long-misunderstood aspect of the mating habits of local venomous snakes.

Mr Clemann said the institute often received reports about snakes “braided” together at this time of year.

“Almost everyone thinks that they are seeing mating behaviour, but what they are actually seeing is a ritualised wrestling bout between male snakes,” he said. “I’ve recently examined videos of eastern brown snakes taken in Victoria, ACT and South Australia, and the behaviour is consistent with ritual combat rather than mating.

“ ... their movements amount to vigorous wrestling, probably in an attempt to establish dominance and secure mating rights to a nearby female snake,” Mr Clemann said.

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