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What to do if you see a snake in the wild

Spring has now sprung in most parts of Australia. While it’s exciting for many that winter is behind us, it also brings a concern - snakes!

Don’t forget Australia's seasons are at opposite times to those in the northern hemisphere.

Here is a quick refresher.

Spring - September to November

Summer - December to February

Autumn - March to May

Winter - June to August

Australia’s snake season kicks in between September and April. During this time snakes are on the hunt for food and a mate after brumation during winter. However, if there is an unseasonably warm end to winter, snake season could start early.

Below is a short Q&A with Study in Australia Group's Katie who currently lives in Ballarat Victoria.

Are you scared of snakes?

No…only because seeing them is rare. However, it is always in the back of your mind to be cautious when walking through the bush or long grass.

Is there a safe way to enjoy the bush during snake season?

Yes. Always wear closed toe shoes and stay on the path. Avoid walking through long grass and sitting/climbing on piles of rocks or wood. Walking through thick vegetation around water sources is also risky.

Don’t forget that snakes also swim! When I was a teenager I was swimming in a river at Wangaratta Victoria and a snake was swimming on the other side. The snake wasn’t interested in me but I did leave the water just to be safe. It was too far away to tell what type it was.

Another time I was walking in the Bayles Victoria Fauna Park when a snake was spotted on the path. We just walked the other way and left it alone.

Always assume a snake is venomous! Better safe than sorry.

How do you avoid snakes coming near your house?

Always keep the lawn short. Don’t have unnecessary clutter around your home. If it is very dry snakes can come into backyards looking for water so be mindful of buckets, pet water bowls etc… lying about.

Which snakes are venomous in Victoria?

The most common venomous snakes found in Victoria are the Brown Snake, Tiger Snake, Copperhead and Red-bellied black snake.

What do snakes do during winter?

Snakes don’t actually hibernate in the typical way warm-blooded animals do. Snakes go into a state called ‘brumation’. Their metabolism slows and they sleep. Snakes may wake to look for food or water if there is a warm break in the weather.

What do I do if I see a snake?

If the snake is in the wild, stay calm and simply walk the other direction.

Last year I saw a snake in the middle of a dirt road in the bush. I think it was a Brown Snake… I did a U-Turn with my car to get a better look because I get a bit excited when I see a snake. The snake didn’t move... it just stared at me. Then I drove away. If I had seen someone on their bike or walking along the road I would have warned them. It is common to alert people if there is a snake.

Never run over a snake in your car. There are stories of snakes looping up under your vehicle and you end up taking home a snake that is still very much alive!

If the snake is on your property you will need to call a Snake Catcher to relocate the snake for you. It is illegal to kill a snake in all States/ Territories in Australia unless they are threatening life! You can easily find a Snake Catcher near you by searching on Google.

Are deaths common in Australia from snake bites?

No. On average Australia has 2 deaths per year due to snake bites. You really do have to accidently stand on one or put your hand where they are hiding to be bitten by a snake. There are also many effective treatments available should you be bitten.

What do you do if you are bitten by a snake?

Call an ambulance (phone number 000) and administer First Aid.

Attending a St John First Aid course is worth the time and money. For a quick reference there are videos such as this one that can give you tips on what to do.

Video source and credits: St John WA on YouTube

From a young age children are taught by their parents and at school about the dangers of snakes and what to do if a snake bite occurs. It is OK to ask another person for help as they most likely will know First Aid if they have lived in Australia long enough.

If you want to learn more about snakes I highly recommend visiting a Zoo or Wildlife Park!

If you are wondering what qualifications you need to become a paramedic in Australia, contact Study in Australia Group for a free consultation.


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