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Snake bites are keeping helicopter rescue crews busy

DON'T GET BIT: With six people bitten in Queensland this month, snake catcher Anthony Zink warns people to leave snakes alone and let the professionals take care of wayward snakes. Even a baby eastern brown snake like this one can deliver a fatal bite. Photo taken Tuesday, 24 March 2014. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail
DON'T GET BIT: With six people bitten in Queensland this month, snake catcher Anthony Zink warns people to leave snakes alone and let the professionals take care of wayward snakes. Even a baby eastern brown snake like this one can deliver a fatal bite. Photo taken Tuesday, 24 March 2014. Photo: Max Fleet / NewsMail Max Fleet

WITH years of experience handling snakes, Bundaberg snake catch Anthony Zink knows a thing or two about the slithering reptiles.

While most people are likely to head in the opposite direction when confronted by a snake, Mr Zink said it was surprising how many people attempted to move snakes themselves.

Mr Zink believes an increase in suspected snake bites across the region and further afield, which has had the RACQ CareFlight Rescue choppers respond to six call outs so far this month, is a result of people foolishly intervening, instead of calling in the experts.

"I've seen it myself when I go out and people think they are helping but they should be standing out the way and standing well back," he said.

"I had one bloke pulling things out of his lean-to really quickly, moving things out of the way trying to help me but I like to go a lot slower so I can detect any movement."

Mr Zink said it was hard for people to determine what type of snake they've come across and often they mistook a highly venomous snake for a non-dangerous one and became complacent.

"People think brown snakes can't climb trees so they see a snake head up a tree and think it's a green tree snake," he said.

"But browns love Sheena's Gold trees and a lot of people have them in their front yards."

Mr Zink also advised people gardening to have a plastic rake handy as a defensive tool.

"You can keep the rake between you and the snake and flick them away if need be," he said. "Most snakes move a lot quicker than any person can."

Mr Zink said keeping your yard tidy, especially if you kept chickens, was important to deter snakes.

"Chickens attract mice and rats and anywhere you've got them you'll get snakes," he said.

"Snakes are looking for food and water so if you have a dog's water bowl, move it around so the snake doesn't know a spot they can keep coming back to."

Mr Zink's advice comes after a backpacker was airlifted by RACQ CareFlight Rescue from Fraser Island in the early hours of yesterday after she was bitten by a snake.

The Bundaberg rescue helicopter was sent to Eurong on the island's east coast just after midnight to airlift the woman.

While the patient didn't display signs of being invenomated, she was flown to Hervey Bay Hospital as a precaution.

On Saturday another female backpacker was bitten by a snake at Gayndah.

So far this year, CareFlight has airlifted 16 patients suffering snake bites compared to six patients in the same time period last year.

Topics:  editors picks snakes



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