Snakes Harmful and HarmlessTM


Snakes

Aussie Snakes

long and skinny






The illustration of a banded sand snake (Simoselaps bertholdi) is from Reptiles and Frogs of the Perth Region


During spring and autumn these elongate reptiles are doing their thing. They are on the move looking for a feed. The males, after spending much of the spring in searching for females, now feel the pangs of hunger.

Spare a thought for the adult female though, once inseminated, she has only a few weeks in which to lay down the energy to sustain the eggs developing inside her. Eggs that may represent as much as 140% of her body-weight. Phew!

Although there are 27 types of snakes found in Perth WA (one is a naturalised exotic), there are over 200 known in Australia. The species I refer to above is the Dugite (Pseudonaja affinis). A very common inoffensive venomous beast that tolerates humans for the sake of a feed of house mice. It is potentially dangerous, but only bites those who tread on it, try to kill it or touch it.

People generally do not feel obliged to reciprocate by tolerating snakes though. So much myth and magic abounds concerning these native animals that we often grab for the shovel or shotgun without thinking.

Trees caused more deaths in Oz than snakes! We would not consider knocking down every tree because of the rare eventuality that it may fall on someone. Horse-related accidents kill an average of 20 people each year in Australia, but we still tolerate them. Therefore it follows that we should not consider knocking every snake on the head because it may bite someone. Honeybees kill more people here each year than all our native venomous animals combined. However, let's not let the facts get in the way of a good story - it does not sound so good telling the world our most venomous animal is an exotic introduced from Europe!

If you are fortunate (or unfortunate) enough to see a snake in your garden, try not to worry about it. It will move on eventually. Advise the children that may play in the area to be careful. If the snake persists over several days, or finds its way into the house, call a volunteer snakebuster. Remember though, they are volunteers (doing it for a donation) and are not always available. If you can't contact one, some local pest control companies will provide assistance for a fee.


Some facts that may ease your anxiety -

* Australia's snakes are the most venomous only if you are a mouse. That's right, when anyone refers to the strength of the snakes' venoms here they are using the LD50 data - I have never talked to a mouse in my life!

* Only 47 deaths have occurred due to snakes Australia wide between 1980-2013.

* Although 3,000-4,000 people are believed bitten by snakes each year in Australia, less than 200 require antivenom treatment.

* Appropriate footware, an awareness of snakes, bush walk instead of run and you do not need to worry about snakes.

* No one has died from snakebite after correct pressure bandage and immobilisation first-aid has been applied.


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