The Australian Snake Season Part 2: Avoiding Snake Encounters

There is a saying in the UK that you’re never more than 6 feet away from a rat. It is just a saying though and the likelihood is that it’s untrue; nobody really knows how many rats there are in the UK. Either way, they don’t have the same saying here in Australia, well I’ve certainly never heard anyone mention it. It’s not that we don’t have rats here, we do, but I’m pretty sure we don’t have as many.

Why?

Because we have snakes and snakes like to eat rats. In fact if snake were ever to go for a job interview and be required to present his CV, I’m sure the hobbies listed would be mating, sunbathing and eating rats.

So snakes aren’t so bad, they have a job in the ecosystem.

Let’s liven this post up with some photographs…

Carpet python close up

me-with-a-snake-skin

taipanThat’s better. Anyway…

Rats and snakes do have one thing in common though; they are both definitely around, but you rarely see them. How many rats did I see in the UK? Not many, I’m sure I could count them on the fingers of both hands, but they were definitely around.

How many snakes have I seen here in Australia?

In view of Monday’s post, Snake Season in Australia: Keeping Children & Pets Safe, I think it’s a good idea for me to go through my personal snake sightings now. I realise Monday’s post may well have put the frighteners on a few of you and the last thing I want to do is put anyone off of coming to Australia because of snakes.

Snakes are here, yes, but like rats in the UK they very much stay in the background. Every now and then you do get to see one, and probably like rats, you’re more likely to see a dead one than one that is still alive.

A dead rat or a dead snake cannot hide from you, something they prefer to do when they are capable.

Before I give you my snake sightings list, here is a Google Earth’s view of where I live, please click to enlarge it if you wish…

Snake sightings map

As you can see, I’ve divided my map into 2 areas; Area 1 and Area 2.

Just close to the red border in Area 1 you will notice a black blob, that’s where I live. In the same Area 1 you will notice lots of green foresty open land. That’s where snakes live.

If you look very carefully on my map, you will find five small green crosses, that’s where I have seen each of my local snakes. These green crosses aren’t easy to spot, but neither are snakes in the wild. Just trying to keep it realistic. Notice how all my crosses are in Area 1 close to the green foresty open land bits?

I have never seen a snake in Area 2.

These are my snake sightings:

  • Botanical gardens, baby carpet snake, non-venomous, not dangerous, pointed out to me by a friend otherwise I would not have seen it. See the green cross on the above map, the one that is highest.
  • Mt Tamborine, whilst camping, large carpet snake, see my post about Bad Things at Camping for the full story and pictures.
  • Byron Bay, 1 metre eastern brown. This was my first real life encounter of a venomous snake and I caught it on video. See my post Snakes in Australia: My First Real Live Encounter.
  • At a local house with acreage I saw a snake slither off in a hurry when it saw me coming, I have no idea what kind of snake it was. It’s marked by the green cross closest to where I live on the above map.
  • Local, in the road, unknown snake. The snake was crossing the road, the car in front stopped and an old guy got out, grabbed a stick from the side of the road, and ushered this snake into the green fields at the side so that we could carry on driving. This made my day, it proved that many people like snakes here, they would rather help them than harm them. This took place around the third highest green cross on the map.
  • Locally, in the road, I drove past a snake in my car. See the second highest green cross on the map.
  • In my house, a green tree snake. Yes, that’s right, slap bang in the middle of my black blob on the map. Exactly where I live. See my post Snake in the House for the video.
  • Another local house, on acreage, again this snake slithered away from me before I had any kind of chance to get a proper look; this one took place where you can see the lowest of the green crosses.

Roundup:

In summary then, two of my snake sightings were pointed out to me otherwise I would never have seen them. One of those was pretty much a regular inhabitant who was kept on simply to keep the rats down and had harmed no humans.

Two of my sightings were from the car; it’s difficult to get too fearful about those kind of encounters.

Two of my encounters were on large acreage backing onto bushlands and on both of these occasions the snakes retreated from me so fast I had no chance of even guessing what kind snake they might have been.

Then there was the one green tree snake, totally harmless, that came into my house because the tree that he lived in next door had been chopped down.

That just leaves one sighting with a potentially venomous snake, the small baby brown at Byron Bay. Truth be known, even that was pointed out to me, whether I would have seen it eventually on my own or not, I’ll never know. Either way, this was another snake whose only interest was to run away despite me following it with my camera.

Your chances of a snake encounter

So, in six years I’ve never come even close to having a scary encounter with a snake, yet I live in suburbs surrounded by acreage and bushland as you can see by the map. This area is known to have a higher than average snake population than the suburbs closer to the cities.

In the six years I’ve lived here I have actively been looking for snakes just so I can take pictures for this website. I’ve seen about one year, and I live in an area where I am more likely to see them the most. If I moved to acreage, I’d probably see more.

If I hadn’t had help though, I might have seen as few as one in those six years.

If I moved to a higher density residential area, or Area 2 in a place away from even the little green foresty bits, I probably wouldn’t have seen any snakes at all in all of those years.

Here’s the big difference between rats and snakes; rats need to live near humans to survive, snakes prefer to live as far away from us people as possible.

To avoid snakes then, simply live as far away from bushlands, forests and fields as you can and live amongst lots of people instead.

Conclusion

Clearly, a snake has the potential to cause far more damage to us humans than a rat can, bubonic plagues aside, but I still do know many people in the UK with a quite hysterical fear of rats.

Fortunately though, they very rarely see them. They are there, somewhere, they just can’t see them. That’s pretty much how it is here in Australia with our snakes. They are there, but we very rarely see them.

People with a fear of rats still live in the UK; I don’t think snakes should stop anyone with a fear of snakes from living in Australia either.

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{ 8 comments… add one }
  • Sylwia September 20, 2016, 9:37 pm | Link

    Hi Bob, I found you blog very helpful with our decision to move to Brisbane.Unfortunately some of them we made to quickly. After looking on your map I just realized that buing a house on Sugars Rd Anstead was not the best idea. We coming with 2 teenages kids and choose Kenmore School for them. Also our 3 dogs , of whichI have my bad dreams that they going to be attack by snake or eaten ( 2 of them are dushunds so digging, hunting dogs )
    Anyway can you update us if you seen any more snakes around Anstead recently?

    Sylwia

    • BobinOz September 21, 2016, 5:49 pm | Link

      Well, the good news Sylwia is that I haven’t seen any snakes around the area lately, the bad news though is that they will definitely still be there. Australian snakes are by their nature very timid, so we rarely see them anyway, which is good.

      They are there though, and they always will be, especially in rural areas like Anstead.

      That said, lots of people do live in these rural areas and with pets. Dogs are commonly left out on acreage to run around all day, people often utilising the hidden fence system so that dogs don’t disappear into the streets.

      There have been incidents with dogs and snakes, for sure, especially with dogs who would naturally attack a snake if they see it. Dogs will often win in a fight, especially if there are two, or as in your case three of them. But the best thing to do though is to try and train your dogs to stay away from snakes.

      I think it’s also fair to say that snakes get the hang of where dogs live and then do their best to avoid those areas, so that could well work in your favour. I’m not trying to frighten you about this, I just want you to know what to expect. Me and my wife ran a pet care company in this area for 6 years, we have fed hundreds of dogs over the years that live on these acreage properties.

      It was very rare that a dog would get killed by a snake, I couldn’t put a number on it, but if I had to I say less than 10, it may even have been less than 5.

      On the plus side, Kenmore School has a very good reputation. Good luck with your move, Bob

  • denise December 1, 2013, 9:48 pm | Link

    i was born on a farm here in oz. Have lived in bushy areas as well and am 57 yrs old. Snakes have been a rare occurance in my life. I dont go looking for them and always stay clear of them on the odd occasion when I come across one. Never had a problem except for a minor frightened moment. Still its important not to go trudging through long grass and the bush in sandals or thongs. Spiders are different again. There are more of them about really. I dont like the big hairy ones and will capture it with a large jar or something and throw it outside immediately. Biggest risk to personal safety is finding one inside your car when you are driving full speed down the road. Its the instinctive personal recoil that is the biggest danger. Not the actual spider itself. Very rare occurance but it has happened to myself and others. There are other little cute spiders that you might come across if you look out for them. Its really a matter of live and let live with spiders and snakes I think. They very rarely impinge on daily life at all. Many people must love their home country and nowhere is perfect but I am very grateful to live in Australia.

    • BobinOz December 2, 2013, 4:59 pm | Link

      And that pretty much sums it up Denise, doesn’t it? I’ve only been here six years, so I have nowhere near the same amount of experience as you have, but I still see it the same way. Seeing snakes is very rare, live and let live, don’t walk through long grass in shorts and sandals or thongs, it’s all pretty straightforward and common sense.

      I don’t really see spiders that often either. I know what you mean about the car though, not had a spider in there yet but I did have an unidentified flying bug come in through the window when I was driving at speed, definitely unnerving when that sort of thing is buzzing, darting here there and everywhere and bumping into your windscreen and occasionally your head.

      It’s real hard to concentrate on driving 🙂

      Australia’s reputation goes before it, and I can understand why people moving here get a bit freaked out by snakes and spiders, but there really isn’t too much to get overly excited about.

      Thanks for letting us know your story.

      Bob

  • Hasan November 15, 2013, 11:58 am | Link

    Hey Bob! Just thought I’d drop a comment about how helpful and informative this site has been for me. I’m moving to Brisbane in December, really excited already, and your site only made me more so!

    As a Canadian, I have to say, the wildlife was probably more of a concern for me than I care to admit. But I’ll be honest with you, the spider-fear is FAR more of a concern than the snake-fear.

    In fact- dare I say it- I don’t think I even AM afraid of them. They seem very cool with sharing spaces.

    Anyway, thanks again! Keep up the great work!

    • BobinOz November 15, 2013, 3:52 pm | Link

      Nothing wrong with not being scared of snakes, but you should certainly be aware; remember a snake can kill you, nobody has been killed here by a spider since the 70s.

      Congratulations on your upcoming move. Hope you get to love Brisbane is much as I do and thanks for your kind words about my website.

      Bob

  • Ivan September 27, 2013, 11:31 am | Link

    I’d rather have a snake in my garden than a spider 🙂

    • BobinOz September 27, 2013, 7:23 pm | Link

      Not keen on spiders then Ivan? 🙂

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