Disgust at tradies' illegal act involving snake at housing site: 'No excuse'

'Everyone thinks they’re an expert... they pick them up for their 10 seconds of fame on TikTok.'

A stuff-up involving a snake and a group of tradies at a new housing development has animal experts shaking their heads in disgust.

Wildlife rescuers say they’d never start driving an earth mover or bulldozer because they’re not trained to operate them, so they are stumped by a decision by construction workers who took it upon themselves to remove a mother python and her eggs from where they wanted to work.

Yahoo understands the snake was discovered in the yard of a newly constructed Gold Coast project home. It's believed the workers had been scraping the ground in preparation for laying turf when they found the mother wrapped around her eggs.

Left - python eggs in a container on a car seat. Right - close up of the eggs in a plastic box
The clutch of python eggs (pictured) were taken from the tradies and taken to a Gold Coast wildlife hospital. Source: WIRES/Amy Wregg

Despite being instructed during a phone call with a snake catcher to keep people away and not to move her, the workers decided the matter couldn't wait and moved the mother 200 metres away into mangroves, scaring away the mother and potentially drowning the babies inside their eggs.

“What they did was not on. There’s no excuse,” a snake catcher familiar with the incident on Wednesday told Yahoo News Australia.

“It’s illegal to catch and relocate snakes yourself, because doing so puts the person moving it and the ecosystem at risk. They don’t release them in the right spot, and the snake is going to try and get home and go through someone else’s yard, or get hit by a car crossing a road.”

What happened to the python after the tradies moved her?

Because the eggs at the site were disturbed and unprotected, a rescuer from WIRES had to be called to the Helensvale site to gather and relocate the eggs to a sanctuary.

Pictures shared with Yahoo by WIRES the eggs later securely placed inside a plastic box before they were driven to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

“We couldn’t find the mum and we don’t know if she was injured, and the eggs were tilted on the side so we don’t know how viable they’ll be,” WIRES expert handler Amy Wregg told Yahoo.

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Locals harming snakes for 10 seconds of TikTok fame

Amy remains frustrated that there isn’t enough awareness in Queensland about snake protection laws.

“Everyone thinks they’re an expert because of all the social media pages that ID snakes,” she said.

“If you don't know how to handle a snake correctly, you injure them and fracture their spine if you’re not supporting it properly. Or the snake can die just from shock. But a lot of the time they pick them up for their 10 seconds of fame on TikTok.”

Her sentiment is shared by professional rescuers who operate around the Gold Coast area, who are frequently called to intervene as the region’s bushland is rapidly bulldozed and replaced by housing developments.

“We’re on the frontline and we’ve become an advice line because there’s no information out there about snakes. I go to calls and dogs have been bitten by snakes, and the customer doesn’t listen. Then the dog dies in front of me,” he said.

“I’ve had calls where people have chopped up snakes into pieces for no reason. I got a callout to Coolangatta where a man grabbed a rake, and bashed a snake to death with it in someone else’s yard.

“All these things are supposed to be illegal. But no one ever gets prosecuted because they’re ‘just snakes’ and no one cares about snakes… If it was any other animal, like a koala… people would jump up and down, but when it’s a snake people have fear through misunderstanding.”

What to do if you see a snake

In Queensland, all native snakes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act which makes it an offence to kill, injure or take snakes out of the wild.

Snake bites are rare, but they overwhelmingly are triggered when someone frightens a snake by trying to pick it up or kill it. Most wildlife in Australia are territorial and moving them causes stress to the animal. If you encounter a snake and it poses a danger to humans, a snake catcher must be called.

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