Snakes are coming out about now, so they will be passing through properties looking for a mate and food. If you see a snake, leave it alone.
The chances of it being venomous are almost total. Snakes are generally shy, timid animals which will avoid conflict if given the opportunity.
If a bite occurs, follow the recommended first aid and remain calm.
Most bites occur on the feet, lower legs, hands and forearms.
The recommended first aid is very effective and simple. If it is practised immediately, the chances of a complete recovery are excellent. In the event of a bite from a venomous snake:
Keep the patient calm and the bitten limb as still as possible.
Apply a bandage(s) over the bitten area as soon as possible, starting from the lower portion of the limb.
Apply the bandage(s) as firmly as you would for a sprain. Extend the bandage(s) as high as possible up the limb. Immobilise a bitten leg with a splint; immobilise a bitten arm with a splint to the elbow and a sling.
Most snakes will only try to bite if they are cornered or unduly annoyed. Many bites occur when people go out of their way to try and kill a snake, even when, in most cases, it is not harming anyone.
Never let children touch or collect snakes; if a young child says that a snake has bitten him or her, it is safer to believe them.
Snakes travel in search of food, mates and somewhere safe and dry to rest. Most mate in spring and early summer, and feed on small birds, mice, rats, skinks and frogs. In turn, mice and rats are attracted by grain and food scraps. To a snake, somewhere safe can be, for instance, under a large log, sheet of tin, tree stump, woodpile, or concrete slab. The opening into their resting place can be as small as 3 cm across. Therefore, to a snake, a hole in the floor-boards of a bungalow, or a tiny gap in a wall next to a water heater, or ducted heating, looks just as inviting as a hole under a stump in the bush.
Reducing the chances of a snake entering or staying on your property is a matter of common sense:
Do not leave piles of tin, garden cuttings, firewood or rubbish lying around for a snake to shelter under.
On a suburban block, avoid the accumulation of thick vegetation and rubbish on the outside of a fence. If living in the country, try to keep the area immediately around the house and garage free of rubbish and thick vegetation.
Avoid allowing grass to grow too long, especially near the house.
If you keep hens, other animals, or have feed stations for native birds or possums, ensure that all food is kept in secure containers and that the animal’s areas are kept clean.
On an average-sized block of land (0.1 ha), a paling fence 1.55 m high with horizontal supports on the inside will deter most snakes if dug into the ground by 30cm.
Ensure that all perimeter doors to your home are secure and do not have gaps. Spring-loaded weather strips correctly fitted to a door will prevent a vagrant snake entering your home.
Store all material, on your property and in sheds, off the ground.
IF you see a snake, leave it alone. Maintain a watch on its movements from a safe distance. Remain in an open area while observing its movements and keep other people away. Then ring for your local Wildlife group for help. Northern Tablelands Wildlife Carers phone 1800 008 290. www.ntwc.org.au