14 January 2021

Snake season off to hiss-torically early start

| Lachlan Roberts
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Eastern Brown snake

An eastern brown snake, which is the most common snake in Canberra, was spotted in a school library last month. File photo.

Staff and students at Covenant Christian School in Gordon were shocked to discover an unexpected visitor in the school library last month – an eastern brown snake.

Local snake catcher Luke Dunn has a hunch that the highly venomous reptile might have spent the winter months living inside the warm library.

“Around the library wall was a skirting board, which had quite a large gap behind it, so I think there’s a chance he was in the library for the entire winter,” Luke said.

“He wasn’t skinny by any means but he had some loose skin which suggests to me that he had lost weight. That tells me that he had picked a spot for winter where it was relatively warm enough for his body to metabolise properly.

“The school thinks they had the heater on in the library for the entire winter which would be a good temperature for him. So I have a pretty good hunch that he was in the library the entire time.”

Luke, who has run Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation with his partner Emma for the last four years, said the call out on 19 August was the earliest he had received for snake removal. While he admitted it was a random situation, he said he wasn’t too shocked by the call out.

“We keep a couple of reptiles in outdoor enclosures and we noticed that they were becoming active much earlier than they usually do so I wasn’t super shocked,” he said. “Our reptiles give us a good indication of when we should start expecting some calls.”

The early sighting and removal has the snake-removal family ready for a busy season as the weather starts to get warmer.

“Last year was our busiest season so far and I am expecting this season to be very similar, if not busier, than last year,” Luke told Region Media.

“Last year, we relocated just shy of 150 reptiles. We moved two or three blue-tongue lizards because they were in danger of being attacked by family pets, two tiger snakes, three or four red bellies and the rest were brown snakes.”

Luke said he receives his fair share of false alarms of snake sightings when it happens to be a blue-tongue lizard, but said it is always better to be safe than sorry.

“If you have spotted a snake, keep a safe distance away from it while keeping an eye on it,” he said. “Don’t make any fast or quick movements around them because that can make them agitated.

“You should not try to intervene with the snake yourself because our local snakes are a protected species, so trying to harm or hurt them in any way can get you into a bit of trouble.

“People can be bitten when they try to intervene and be a hero, so it is best to call a snake removal specialist,” he said.

For urgent snake matters and removal, call Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation 0405 405 304.

Access Canberra’s Contact Centre (13 22 81) can also provide a list of licensed snake removalists.

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