Snake alert as weather warms up

Gotcha: Licensed snake catcher Marcus Cosentino with a dugite. Picture: Steve Ferrier/The West Australian

The first snakes of the season have started slithering around the suburbs, prompting warnings from Perth wildlife and veterinary experts.

Snakes rest during the winter months then regain energy as temperatures rise.

Two of Perth's major after-hours veterinary services treated their first snakebite victims this month.

In both cases, the patient was a Staffordshire bull terrier which required several vials of anti-venom to survive.

Perth Vet Emergency received its first patient on Saturday - a Staffordshire which veterinarian Stephanie McCaughey believes was bitten by a tiger snake on a property in Heathridge.

"It was a bit of a warmer day," she said.

"One of our vets actually said, 'It feels like a snake day.'

"As soon as it starts to get warm, the snakes are waking up, they're hungry and that's when you've got to watch out."

Ms McCaughey urged owners to keep their dogs on leads near bushland and wetlands - the natural habitat of venomous dugites and tiger snakes.

"It's absolutely life-threatening for pets," she said.

"They can go from walking around to not breathing in five minutes."

Balcatta Veterinary Hospital owner Tony Leeflang said dogs needed medical attention within 30 to 60 minutes of the bite.

"When they first get bitten, you might get an immediate bout of vomiting and then they'll seem to get better," he said.

"But over the next 15 or 20 minutes they might get a bit wobbly, have difficulty breathing and collapse."

Licensed snake catcher Marcus Cosentino, 24, had his first call-out of the season on Sunday, after workers found a big dugite on a Gwelup building site.

He released the snake at Lake Gwelup yesterday.

"You always hear people say, 'The only good snake's a dead snake,' but snakes don't want to get into conflict," he said.

"Their responses are always flee, hide and then the last resort is bite.

"Most snake bites happen when people try to catch or kill the snake, so just call the helpline if you see one.

"It's hard with dogs because sometimes the dogs are just inquisitive or aggressive."

Department of Parks and Wildlife officer Emma Lipianin said homeowners should keep their grass short and backyards tidy.

Jeans and boots could help protect people walking through bushland.

Anyone who finds a snake should call the wildcare helpline on 9474 9055.