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Snakes on the move

Snake catcher Dave Beck took this photo of an unhappy brown snake while in Kilkivan.
Snake catcher Dave Beck took this photo of an unhappy brown snake while in Kilkivan.

THERE are old snake catchers and bold snake catchers, but no old bold snake catchers. Or so they say.

The death last week of Warwick mum Narelle Pails, bitten multiple times through her long pants, shocked the community and brought under scrutiny Queensland's most commonly encountered and fourth most dangerous snake, the eastern brown, though authorities are yet to confirm what type of snake bit Mrs Pails.

Snake catchers in the Gympie region said yesterday they were "run off their feet" and that eastern browns were the most common culprit, but they said the snake season in general was no worse than usual and not as busy as 2010.

However something is afoot in our backyards and paddocks that has many snakes all a-slither: the mass ovulation of their fairer sex.

Seems it is snake season in more ways than one.

Pomona's version of Steve Irwin, long-time snake catcher, John Keady, 66, doesn't mind a bit of a joke, but he is deadly serious when it comes to snakes.

"We've got double trouble at the moment," he said yesterday, minutes before leaving home to respond to several Gympie call-outs.

Female land snakes of all varieties ovulate at this time of year and leave scent trails all over the countryside that drive their males crazy with passion.

"That's why you see a lot of snakes fighting (right now)," John says.

While the males may be more aggressive with each other, they are not more aggressive towards humans.

But they are more active, chasing those tantalising scent trails.

The oldest snake catcher in the business says he has never been bitten on the job and that you can't lure or trap a snake.

So-called snake repellents have also proved themselves to be useless, John says.

The best thing to when you see a snake is call a licensed, insured handler and keep an eye on the snake until they arrive to relocate it.

John has caught and relocated many unwanted visitors in and near Gympie recently, most notably taipans and eastern browns at Two Mile and the Southside.

"We've had a big run on eastern browns," he said.

While not "aggressive", eastern browns are "nervous" and "very easily provoked", warns the Queensland Government website.

"Once provoked, eastern browns and coastal taipans may deliver several bites in quick succession," it says.

The majority of bites occur when victims provoke a snake by attempting to catch, kill or handle it.

Two to three Australians die each year from snake bites, with eastern browns accounting for half of the deaths.

Cooloola Cove snake catcher Dave Beck has been in the game three years and has had recent call-outs to Widgee, Imbil, Goomboorian and Gympie.

"This year isn't as bad as last year," he said.

"Last year was something very different.

"There are a lot of browns at the moment, and they are big.

"I have not caught much under five feet."

John can be contacted on 0404 076 711 and Dave on 5488 0916 or 0403 976 192.

First aid

  •  Keep the patient still and provide reassurance they will be okay.
  •  Maintain vital functions, if imperilled.
  •  Immediately apply a pressure immobilisation bandage.
  •  Try and keep the patient as still as possible and bring transport to them.
  •  Always seek medical help at the earliest opportunity.
  •  If the snake has been killed, bring it with the patient, but do not waste time trying to kill it.
  •  Do not wash, cut or suck the wound.
  •  Do not use a tourniquet.
  •  Do not give alcohol or food to the patient.

Topics:  snakes snake season summer

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