The department’s acting environmental compliance regional manager Nathan MacDonald said snakes, as cold-blooded animals, were emerging from winter hibernation to bask in the sun and to search for food and a mate.
“The recent sunny weather also means people are spending more time outdoors and it is quite likely they will encounter a snake,” he said.
Mr MacDonald said copperheads were common throughout western Victoria early in season, with tiger, red-bellied black and brown snakes becoming more common as the weather continued to warm up.
“These four species are highly venomous, but it is rare for them to bite people. Most snake bites are received by people who try to capture or kill a snake,” he said.
“Snakes can be known to bite animals, such as dogs, if they feel threatened. If your dog or cat encounters a snake, the best course of action is to remove your pet from the area or tie it up while the snake passes and if you suspect your pet has been bitten take it to a vet immediately.
“Snakes are generally very shy and prefer to keep away from people.
“Often when a snake is found in a backyard it’s because it’s moving through the area to other habitat.
“Being aware snakes might be around and being informed about how to react to them are the most important aspects of managing snakes.”
Mr MacDonald provided information for people who lived in an area with snakes. These included –
• When left alone, snakes present little or no danger to people
• If you see a snake, keep calm and move yourself and anyone with you, including pets, away from the area
• Don’t attempt to capture or harm snakes. Instead call DELWP on 136 186 for further advice, or call a licensed snake catcher
• Maintain lawns and clean up around your house. Snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, and building materials
• Undertake first aid training and ensure your first-aid kit contains several compression bandages, and if someone is bitten, call 000 immediately.
“We would remind everyone that snakes play an important role in our ecosystem and are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975,” Mr MacDonald said.
“It is illegal to capture, harm, or kill them. Reports of people wilfully destroying protected wildlife will be investigated accordingly.”