Be on the lookout for snakes on KI

Spring brings out snakes, so gardeners are reminded to look out for snakes during their spring clean-ups.

Snakes hibernate throughout the colder months and become active again in spring when temperatures start to rise.

Kangaroo Island has two species of snakes, both venomous. There is the fully black variant of the tiger snake and the other species is the copperhead.

Department for Environment and Water animal welfare manager, Dr Deb Kelly said there were snakes all over South Australia, including metropolitan Adelaide.

“Just because you’ve never seen a snake on your property doesn’t mean they aren’t there, so you should always be careful about putting your hands or feet into spots you can’t see, like long grass or that pile of junk behind the shed,” Dr Kelly said.

“Contrary to popular belief, snakes don’t only live in bushland. You’ll see them in the suburbs, and even at the beach – sand dunes are prime snake habitat.

“Eastern browns are one of the most venomous species and they’re widespread across the state, but every area has its local specialty when it comes to venomous snakes.

“Red-bellied blacks are common in the Adelaide Hills, and tiger snakes are found around the River Murray and in the South East.

“Death adders are fairly common in coastal areas of Eyre and Yorke peninsulas, while people in the mining communities up north will be familiar with mulga snakes.

On Kangaroo Island, you’ll find copperheads.”

Dr Kelly said the safest option was to keep away from all snakes, because even nonvenomous species like pythons could give a nasty bite.

“If a person or a pet is bitten by a snake, it’s vital that you seek immediate medical attention, even if you think it’s non-venomous,” she said.

“Unless you’re an expert herpetologist, it can be difficult to tell snakes apart, and even baby snakes can be dangerous.

“For example, a brown snake already has enough venom when it hatches from the egg to hospitalise or even kill an adult.”

She said the best way to discourage snakes from around the home was by keeping yards tidy all year round.

“Long grass, wood heaps, stacks of building materials and piles of rubbish are prime hiding spots for snakes, and also for the rats and mice they like to eat.

“If you keep grass short, store items off the ground on racks, get rid of piles of rubbish and prunings, and control rodents, snakes will be less likely to want to move in with you because you’ll be denying them both shelter and food.

“Remember that they are protected native animals, though, and they have an important part to play in the ecosystem, especially in helping to control rats and mice.”

What to do if you see a snake:

  • Keep well away
  • Don’t try to catch or kill it yourself. This is when most bites happen.  
  • If you see a snake inside, watch where it goes, keep children and pets away, then call a snake catcher to remove it.
  • If the snake is outside and heading towards bushland or a field, leave it alone. Most snakes are not aggressive and won’t chase you.
  • If a person is bitten, call 000. Wrap a pressure bandage tightly over the area of the bite, then use a second bandage and splints to immobilise the limb. Keep the person calm and still until you can get medical help.

For snake removal services, search for ‘snake’ on the Yellow Pages website, www.yellowpages.com.au or contact the DEW Fauna Permit Unit (08) 8124 4972 for a list of snake catchers.

For more information on how to maintain your property to reduce the likelihood of attracting snakes, visit http://www.environment.sa.gov.au/Plants_and_Animals/Living_with_wildlife/Snakes

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