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Warning over deadly snake lurking in photo as kids go back to school

Hiding in plain sight are some of the country's most dangerous snakes, which according to this snake catcher love residing in quiet schools over the holidays.

As kids across the country head back to the classroom this week for a new school year, an Aussie snake catcher has issued a deadly warning to keep an eye out for hidden dangers.

“Because schools have been out of action for the last couple of months and no one’s actually been at the schools, except for maybe a gardener or maintenance person, schools have pretty much been very quiet, very protected areas for snakes,” Gianni Hodgson from Hodgson Snakes in Victoria told Yahoo News Australia.

"So they will definitely have been moving about willy-nilly, not really paying attention, and not really being cautious of people. And now suddenly you’ve got like 100 or 200 people there in a matter of a day, so snakes are going to pop out a lot more regularly."

The copperhead snake in the grass at Ballarat, Victoria.
The copperhead snake was well hidden in the grass on a private property at Ballarat, Victoria. Source: Hodgson Snakes

The snake catcher urged schools to make sure gardens are pruned back, "so that when kids are running along the pathways, there's plenty of opportunities for things to be spotted before the kids step on something".

He added that it would also be a good idea for teachers to scour playgrounds before recess and lunch. "Just check the play equipment and make sure there’s nothing hiding under a slide or under one of those landing platforms on the play equipment," Hodgson said.

"If you’ve also got logs around, just check under those before kids start sitting on them. After two months of not much activity in schools, snakes definitely could have made themselves quite comfortable."

The invisible danger

While snakes may be out and about more than ever at schools, they might not be obvious. In fact, they’re likely to have concealed themselves very well.

Hodgson said even he often walks straight past the reptiles without realising.

"I live on a couple of acres and I'll be walking around and sometimes I don't spot them until they start to move," he said. "A lot of times, they’ll stay still and you’ll pass them by but once they start moving then they jump out like a sore thumb."

Which is why he is determined to help educate the public.

A copperhead snake on tree.
Copperhead snakes are one of the most venomous species in Australia. Source: Australian Museum

Sharing an image to social media of a copperhead snake after he relocated it yesterday from a private property in Ballarat, Hodgson urged people to have a guess at where the snake was hiding. Because, while camouflaged among the scrub, it was there in plain sight.

“The Spot The Snake game helps make people aware of where they could be and pretty much how hard it can be to spot them,” he told Yahoo News. “A lot of times it's simply just on grass and it can be hard to spot them, especially when it’s a tiger snake or something.”

Catcher rescues snake stuck under house

Hodgson picked up the copperhead pictured from a property on Monday after it became stuck under a house between a wall and a concrete slab. The species is in the top 10 list of venomous snakes in Australia.

But the snake catcher said there’s no reason to be afraid.

“This guy was stuck in a wall and I just kind of pulled him out and he was still not interested in biting me,” he explained, “and if anyone had a reason to get bitten by a snake its me, but most of the time they aren't bothered by me picking them up.”

While he had this advice for anyone who spots a snake themselves

“It’s important to walk away from it, facing it but walking backwards,” Hodgson said. “Once you get to a safe enough distance, a couple metres away, and know its not heading your direction, you can just turn around and walk in the opposite direction.

“Look, snakes aren't out to hurt you at all. Their main thing is to get away from you as best as they can. The only real danger is if you’ve got one cornered, or you just simply don’t know it’s there and step on it accidentally.”

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