It’s snake season, here’s what you need to know to stay safe
AS THE weather heats up in the Burnett region, snakes are venturing out into the sunshine in search of food and a mate.
According to South Burnett snake catcher Christian Andersen, the Burnett region is home to a stunning range of snakes, including carpet pythons, tree snakes, spotted-pythons, eastern browns, red-belly black snakes, small-eyed snakes, and white crown snakes.
"You do get the coastal taipan, but it's extremely rare. We've even got the keelback, which is a freshwater snake that can successfully predate on a cane toad without the poison having any ill impact on the snake. It's a pretty good snake to have around actually," Mr Andersen said.
"You'll also find tiger snakes in the Bunya Mountains."
Mr Andersen said one of the most common misconceptions about certain species of snake is that they are aggressive by nature.
"I don't believe that any snake is really aggressive, just very defensive. Their natural response is to show us signs to back off. A classic example would be the red-bellied black snake. You've really got to provoke it to get bitten."
"They'll give you all these signs to warn you to back off. They rear up part of their body off the ground, they flatten their neck out, and start hissing."
"The eastern brown has a similar technique, where they'll rear up off the ground and actually come toward the attacker. A lot of people mistake that for the snake chasing them, but snakes don't chase."
Mr Anderson said it is all about reading a snakes body language. They will give you clear warning if they're feeling threatened and that's your cue to back away.
If at some point this spring, you find a snake makes itself comfortable in your house, the first rule is to stay calm.
"First of all, don't panic. When you start panicking, stupid thoughts come into your head like killing the snake. It's not going to end very well for you," Mr Andersen said.
"There's a high percentage of people who get bitten while trying to kill a snake."
"The best course of action would be to contain it in a room by placing a towel under the door. This will prevent it escape while you call your nearest snake catcher."
"If you don't and it roams around the house, the snake catcher is then going to have to do a huge search of the house."
Should you get bitten by a snake, the same rule applies. While may be a difficult concept to get your head around, keeping your cool is the best course of action.
"Rule number one, don't panic and keep as still as possible. If you keep moving the venom is going to travel faster."
"You should then start wrapping where the fang marks are, and if possible, mark where the bite is on the bandage. Then you wrap (the limb) upward, and then start wrapping back down."
You should immobilise the limb to the best of your ability and call an ambulance.
"The venom was never designed for human beings, it was designed for their prey. Number one to immobilise the prey, and number two, to help with the snakes digestive system. It breaks down body tissues, which makes it a lot easier for the snake to swallow the prey."
If venturing out on a bushwalk, Mr Andersen warns avid hikers to remain vigilant, since a snake bite is not always what you'd expect.
"The fangs marks aren't always going to be prominent. Take for example the eastern brown. The fangs are only between two and three millimetres long. So when a person gets bitten by an eastern brown, it's just a couple of scratch marks. That's all that's needed for the venom to get under."
"So people will be going bushwalking and think a stick has scratched them. They'll start to feel unwell and find out later they've been envenomated by a snake."
Depending on where you live, the same may apply to around the home as well. In his 15 years as a snake catcher, Mr Anderson has removed snakes from pretty much every location around the house you could imagine.
"I've caught them in peoples toilets, cubby houses, pools - you name it," he said.
"I've caught many snakes in cars. They go under the hood and then work their way around. It took me three and a half hours once to get a red-belly out of a car. It was going behind the windscreen wipers and we ended up having to take the wheel off - it went down the wheel arch."