It's peak snake season in Australia – so how should you react when you see one?

Ash Cant
·5-min read

Australia is home to some of the world’s most venomous snakes, so it’s not uncommon for them to be found slithering around one’s home or even into a car.

However, Ranger Jackie, from Hands on Wildlife, explains snakes are misunderstood and there are ways in which to properly handle a situation if you are to cross paths with one.

Snakes are a part of Australian life and they play an important role in eating rats, mice and other animals humans don’t particularly like, Jackie says adding they are often misunderstood.

“There's a lot of myths and stories that get people very afraid, but they're really not as scary as they're made out to be, they’re actually quite amazing animals,” Ranger Jackie told Yahoo News Australia.

Should I run if I see a snake?

If you come across a snake, your first instinct may be to run, which seems logical, but it’s actually not the best thing to do.

Instead Ranger Jackie says the best advice she gives is to stand still.

“Snakes don’t have very good eyesight, so if you stand still the snake won’t feel threatened or scared,” she said.

“And they will be less likely to bite, and you basically disappear to the snake.”

A red-bellied black snake. Source: Getty Images
Snakes are common in Australia, but they are misunderstood. There are right ways to handle situations if you come across one. Source: Getty Images

She then advises to slowly back away from the snake, so you don’t startle it or trip over.

Jackie also advises to treat all snakes you come across as venomous and not try and identify the snake, instead just leave them alone.

What do I do if I find a snake in my home?

It’s not uncommon for Aussies to find snakes around their home or out in their backyard.

Jackie says if you see a snake in your back garden, the best thing to do is to get other people and pets inside and away from the snake, and let it move on.

If it doesn’t appear to move on by itself, then call a snake catcher.

“Call a snake catcher and keep an eye on the snake from a safe distance and they will be able to come and relocate the snake safely,” Jackie says.

She warns it is illegal in most states around the country to interfere with snakes unless you have a permit to relocate them, so just leave it to the professionals.

Jackie said the bulk of calls she receives are from people who have found a snake in their garden area.

“Mostly they’re coming in for water, food or shelter and our homes are great places for that,” she said.

“So we need to keep those places clear and limit the water, rats, mice and frogs that might be around. That’s their food sources and that’s the best way we can reduce the likelihood of snakes being around our houses.”

The venomous Australian Rough Scaled Snake with it's forked tongue out.  This is one of the most dangerous snakes and reptiles in the world.
If you see a snake in your home or garden, call a snake catcher to relocate it. Source: Getty Images

What to do if there’s a snake in your car

There’s been a few instances where snakes have been found in cars,

Jackie suggests pulling over safely and call a snake catcher if you’re driving along and you find a snake slithering around your vehicle.

“They can be a bit tricky to get out of vehicles,” she said.

Last month, a NSW council member found a note on their car saying a snake had slithered in.

“Hey Mate, a big red bellied black name crawled into your rear tyre well and disappeared. Just wanted to let you know,” the note read.

After inspecting his car and not finding the snake, the council member smelt something burning in his engine and there was the red-bellied black snake.

The snake was all right and was relocated.

What to do if you see a snake in the bush

It’s important to understand the risks of going into the bush – which is where snakes thrive.

Jackie says the most important thing to do when going for a walk in the bush is to wear appropriate attire - this means boots, socks and possibly long pants.

“That’s going to be your number one defence against a snake bite,” Jackie said.

When you’re in the bush and you see a snake, remember not to run, remain still and slowly back away, or allow for it to get away from you.

“With snakes, all they really want is to get away from you,” Jackie said.

“They think everything is going to eat them, so they’re scared of everything.”

A large Eastern Brown Snake about to Shed seen among leaves and twigs
Everyone in Australia should know how to properly tend to a snake bite. Source: Getty Images

What to do if you’re bitten by a snake

Australia is home to some of the most venomous snakes in the world and Jackie says she encourages everyone in Australia to know the proper procedure in the unlikely event of a snake bite.

“Call triple zero immediately and apply first aid which is a pressure immobilisation bandage,” Jackie said, adding she also encourages everyone to have such bandages with you, especially when bushwalking.

Recently NSW Health issued advice on snake bites, as the snake season peaks in late December and January.

NSW Poisons Information Centre Senior Specialist, Genevieve Adamo, encourages people seek immediate medical assistance for all suspected bites.

In addition to applying the correct first aid, she also warned on what not to do.

“Tight tourniquets should not be applied and the bite site should not be washed, cut or sucked,” she said in a NSW Health release.

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