Australian Snakes and Death: Continued

In my first post about snakes I explained that the Brisbane area has eight snakes that can kill. Nationwide though, Australia has around 140 different species of snake of which 12 can kill. We have another 30 or so sea snakes. So, it’s worse than you thought right?

Wrong!

According to my research, as at the time of writing there have been 41 snakebite deaths since 1980 in Australia. The brown snake is believed to have been involved in 24 of those deaths.

Eastern Brown

The Eastern Brown Snake

The Tiger Snake is responsible for 8 and the Death Adder, Rough Scaled Snake and Taipan are responsible for the rest.

Some facts:

  • Australian snakes are very shy and timid. They would rather move away from a human, not towards one.
  • Australia’s snakes rarely envenom when biting defensively. Envenomation occurs in less than 1 in 10 bites. They prefer to hit you with a warning.
  • There are no documented fatalities in Australia from sea snake bite.

Update:

It has been pointed out to me that my statement above saying ‘Envenomation occurs in less than 1 in 10 bites’ is not reliable where browns are concerned. So I did a little more research.

First, some background about my original claim. I found a couple of websites making this statement and referencing the quote to ‘Sutherland & King, 1991: 1’. So I felt it was good to publish. But, since Gordon questioned it below in the comments, somewhere around comment 84, I took another look online.

I found an interesting site about toxicity. Some pretty smart people from Adelaide are behind it, including folk from the Women’s and Childrens Hospital and Adelaide University.

Here’s a selection of snakes and their envenomation rates according to them:

Eastern Brown Snake , Common Brown Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 20-40%

Mulga Snake , King Brown Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Inland Taipan , Fierce Snake

Rate of Envenoming: >80%

Common Death Adder

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Mainland Tiger Snake, Eastern Tiger Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Red-bellied Black Snake

Rate of Envenoming: 40-60%

Golden Crowned Snake

Rate of Envenoming: Unknown but likely to be low.

You can read more information about snakes and other venomous creatures at toxinology.com

So 10% seems a little hopeful to us mortals, not just for browns but for almost all snakes. Don’t know how Sutherland & King came to their conclusions but, at best, it seems highly optimistic. Although in fairness, I don’t know who is right and who is wrong here or how they got to their conclusions?. If anyone can throw some light on this, please do comment below.

Again, my thanks to Gordon for pointing this out and apologies for publishing this information which now appears may be flawed. I’ll end this update as Gordon ended his comment “It is a rare event and a low risk overall though , that is true. So, no need to panic!

On with the original post……

More scary than snakes.

  • More than 20 people die each year in Australia from horse riding related accidents. Less than 2 a year die from a snakebite.
  • The deadliest of all Australian creatures, responsible for an average of 10 deaths per year, is the European Honey Bee, which can induce anaphylactic shock in some people.
  • The same happens in the UK, where there are an estimated 10 deaths a year attributed to wasp or bee stings.
  • About 30-60 people are struck by lightning each year in Britain and, on average, 3 of those may die.
  • Scuba diving causes 8 deaths a year here in Australia.
  • Don’t even get me started on road traffic deaths!

So, you are statistically more likely to die going horse riding or scuba-diving, by being struck by lightning or stung by a bee or wasp or by simply getting about in a car.

Prevention

Of those 41 deaths, it is estimated that over half of them occurred because the victim accidentally trod on the snake. Ways to prevent that from happening include wearing proper footwear when walking in the grass, using a torch at night, being a noisy walker and of course, watching where you tread.

About another eight of those deaths occurred because the victim was handling the snake. They either picked it up thinking it was harmless, or they work with snakes. Prevention: Don’t pick up snakes, but I’m sure you didn’t need me to work that out for you.

Probably another five deaths were due to the victims attempt to kill the snake. Prevention: Running away is always the better option. If it’s in the house, which would be rare, simply close the door to the room it is in or close all the doors and leave the house. Then phone a snake catcher.

That only leaves about five or six deaths which were probably unavoidable. And unpreventable.

It is also worth mentioning that alcohol consumption plays a big part in your chances of being killed by a snake. A high percentage of those killed had been drinking. Prevention: I can’t think of one.

Yes, Australia is home to some of the world’s most deadly snakes. But they are also some of the world’s most timid snakes. The worst countries in the world for snake deaths are Sri Lanka and India, followed by South Africa, Africa and then the USA. Yes, the USA has a higher death rate from snake bites per year than Australia. If you have ever travelled to America, has anyone ever said to you “oh my God! What about the snakes?”

I don’t think so.

I think we have been born to be scared of snakes. It has somehow been built into our collective conscious. But the facts don’t back it up. I have been watching an interesting programme called “The Snake Crusader with Bruce George”. He rides around on his Harley Davidson catching snakes and returning them to their natural environment. He loves them, and I’m beginning to like them too. They are beautiful creatures.

The thing is, he can go and capture a snake, pick it up (skilfully of course), place it in a cloth bag and eventually take it into the wild to be released. One would have thought the snake had been through a traumatic time and may well be feeling quite angry and aggressive.

But no!

When he takes them out off the cloth bag and places them on the ground, they just slowly glide away from him heading straight back into the bush. He swears some of them turn back to look at him as if to say “thanks mate” for being returned back home. They show no aggression at all.

There was an interesting quote on the show from Bruce himself. He said “Snakes don’t bite – people get bitten.”

By and large, he’s probably right.

Thinking of moving to Australia but scared of snakes?

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{ 309 comments… add one }
  • Willie April 8, 2016, 7:41 am | Link

    I know that this article is slightly dated but it is at odds with what I read here.

    • Willie April 8, 2016, 7:42 am | Link
      • BobinOz April 8, 2016, 6:14 pm | Link

        Yes, that’s because what you read on my webpage is the reality, what you have read on that newspaper’s webpage is what they have written to attract more readers.

        “Very few snake bites expected again this summer” is not an exciting headline.

        The article you pointed to was from 2013, human deaths attributed to snakes were in no way unusual during that year. Just as my article says above, we usually get about one or two snake related deaths a year.

        • Willie April 8, 2016, 7:02 pm | Link

          Thanks for clearing that up. I personally don’t have an issue with snakes (my son is a herpetologist and snake breeder) but my daughter is worried about the kids playing outside alone. Is Adelaide worse than other areas?

          • BobinOz April 10, 2016, 7:39 pm | Link

            I don’t think Adelaide is any different to any of the other mainland cities here. I think it’s more a simple case of the closer to the bush you are, that is to say the more rural your property is, then the more likely you are to see snakes. Those living closer to the city centres, away from the countryside, will likely see fewer snakes.

  • Andrew January 15, 2016, 9:00 am | Link

    Hi Bob,

    When you speak of higher death rates in other countries, are you speaking of absolute numbers or on a per capita basis?

    It’s probably misleading saying other countries have higher rates when they have between 10 and 50 times the number of people, unless of course your statement is on a per capita basis.

    That said, just being picky. Still not at all concerned about snakes in Oz, snakes on planes though, that’s another thing!

    • BobinOz January 15, 2016, 9:58 pm | Link

      Good point Andrew.

      For this particular article I didn’t go into the per capita rates of each country, but to answer your question, some countries do have higher rates, others not.

      For example, India’s population is about 60 times bigger than ours, but because they do not have good emergency medical facilities, about 45,000 people a year die from snakebites. If we had the same population as they did, based on the two deaths a year with our current population, just 120 people a year would die.

      The US, which has about 15 times our population, reports about 37,500 snakebites a year. Here I think it’s about 2000. Because both of our countries have good emergency medical treatment, both our death rates are very low and reasonably similar per capita.

      Australia though, for some reason, seems to be the only country with a real bad snake reputation.

      • Aussie Snakes and Pythons May 16, 2016, 1:50 pm | Link

        The whole “most venomous” thing is silly and misleading anyway….MANY Snakes all over the world have and can kill humans….If you took a bad bite from a Indian Cobra or Russell’s Viper you would probably be in just as big of trouble (if you did not get medical attention) as you would be from an Eastern Brown or a Tiger Snake even if the Eastern Brown and Tiger Snake have more drop for drop “potent” venom (and drop for drop venom potency does NOT take into account the amount of venom a snake injects in a bite which can vary CONSIDERABLY or the size of fangs on a snake)

        I remember reading an article about the British during the Colonial-Era testing Snake venoms on Dogs in India. They forced a bunch of Indian Cobras to bite Dogs to study the effects of the bite….All the Dogs perished (not a single one survived)….The British did the same thing in Australia with Tiger Snakes and Dogs and all the Dogs perished except for 1 that survived….

        Do you think the Dogs cared that the Indian Cobra venom was supposedly less “drop for drop” potent than a Tiger Snake?? No….They all died….Dead is dead…..If I shoot you in the head with a 9 mill you will likely be just as dead as if I shoot you in the head with .45…..No real difference between the two in REAL life application even if the .45 is a more powerful round….If you take a bite from a highly venomous African or Asian Snake you will likely be in EVERY bit as much trouble as if you took a bite from an Australian Snake assuming you did not receive Medical Care (prompt Medical Treatment can defeat any Snake venom)….

        And to reiterate what I said….Drop for Drop venom potency is just 1 factor in how severe a Snake bite is…..Fang Length and the amount of venom injected in are other factors (Venom yield varies considerably between different Snakes)…..

        • ian May 16, 2016, 8:27 pm | Link

          That’s very true about venom potency. You see it all over the place where the Eastern Brown for example is often rated as 2nd most venomous – then everybody seems to make the automatic assumption that it is the 2nd most DEADLY, which it isn’t.

          They do publish ‘untreated lethality’ figures though, for all the common species. That is the figure which best rates your chances of surviving a bite (however, there is more to it than just that). Though I don’t know this for a fact, the figures are surely derived from actual mortuary/hospital data and probably also extrapolated from patients who were judged to have been fatally bitten, but saved by the doctors.

          It is often claimed that almost nobody has ever survived a bite from the Black Mamba. The Eastern Brown on the other hand, dry bites much more often than it envenomates. Untreated lethality figures reflect this, and they better reflect the objective power of a bite from the various deadly snakes.

          As you kind of implied though, bites vary. The Eastern Brown on average only injects about 4mg, but some specimens can deliver way, way more than that on occasions. The figures only represent the overall average.

          Many Australian snakes are significantly more lethal than most snakes in other countries but the bottom line is that they still RARELY kill people here. Fortunately most are fairly short fanged and bites respond well to a good compression bandage.

          • Aussie Snakes and Pythons May 17, 2016, 7:59 am | Link

            “Many Australian snakes are significantly more lethal than most snakes in other countries but the bottom line is that they still RARELY kill people here.”

            That is simply not true if you are looking at ACTUAL realistic bites not laboratory studies (which are ONLY conducted on Mice by the way)….and are specifically comparing the most lethal Africa/Asian snakes to what we have in Australia….

            The Australian continent for sure has a much higher percentage of very lethal Snakes relative to moderate or less lethal Snakes than do Africa or Asia….However if you are only comparing the deadliest top 10% of Snakes in Africa (Mambas, Non Spitting Cobras, Puff Adders etc) and Asia (Non Spitting Cobras, Kraits, Russells Vipers, King Cobras) the functional difference is almost nill….They all can cause severe damage/harm and death which is the same for the deadliest Snakes in Australia….Like I said….Its the difference between getting shot in the head by a 9 mill vs a .45

            I grew up in Southern Africa…I’ve seen first hand what their Snakes can do…Their is almost no applicable difference between Dogs/Humans bitten by Egyptian/Cape Cobras/Black Mambas and Dogs/Human bitten by Tiger Snakes/Taipans/Eastern Browns…..Death if untreated is usually the outcome (provided it is an actual bite with a good amount of venom injected….not a “scratch” where the snake only gets 1 fang in and only injects a tiny or no amount of venom.)

            If you take a bad bite from a Cape Cobra you will be in just as much trouble (if not treated quickly) as you would be from a bad Eastern Brown Snake bite….No real functional difference in the outcome of the bite regardless of what the LD50 tests done on Mice claim….a .45 would blow your brain to pieces, but a 9 mill would kill you just the same….That is the analogy that fits best imo

            There are so many variable with a Snake bite that it’s not accurate to say the Black Mamba has a “100% untreated Fatality rate” from bites….I know a ranger who got “nicked” by 1 fang from a Black Mamba, but jerked his wrist away quickly….He developed ptosis (eye lids drooping), abdominal pain, and had a metallic taste in his mouth (which is common in Mamba bites)….However his symptoms did not progress to anything more than that since the Snake only scratched him (with 1 fang) and likely only injected a tiny amount of venom…It wasn’t a real bite…just a nick of his wrist by 1 of the Mambas fangs….

            It’s more accurate to say that if you take a FULL on bite from a Black Mamba (or Coastal Taipan) the mortality rate approaches 100% if you do not get treated (Anti venom or a Ventilator to force you to breathe)….

            If you take a full on bite (both fangs with an applicable amount of venom injected etc) from a Taipan or Black Mamba and are not given treatment you will likely die of respiratory failure…..But it’s not accurate to say that any bite from those Snakes has a 100 percent death rate if untreated….Like I said their are way to many variables in a given Snake bite to make such a claim….

            • ian May 17, 2016, 2:59 pm | Link

              Well there is lots I could say about the .45 analogy and it may or may not be appropriate here. Anyway I don’t want to clog up Bob’s page with too much back and forth commentary. I would genuinely like to discuss it if you can find me on Youtube (not sure how to put in links but ‘Deadliest Snakes’, ‘Most Venomous’ etc – you should find me).

              I know there’s a group of people who have no faith in LD50 figures at all. Then there are those who translate too literally the effect on mice to the effect venom would have on humans. My gut says probably about 80-90% analogous but who knows. As you and I both know, if something has a profound effect on a mouse or dog, it most likely will on us too.

              I want to stress though that I have enormous faith in the untreated lethality figures. They surely come from actual bites to humans (not mice), where the person presents to hospital with a bite confirmed to species. The treatment would be observed and noted and eventually the results would be analysed by statisticians. This means that they convey real life effects on humans, encompassing all of the various snake vs human conflicts i.e. different people, different sized snakes, angry snakes, large or typical envenomations – everything. The only significant factor is the sample size. The bigger it is, the more accurate the picture becomes.

              If someone was just barely scratched by a fang, I’m guessing the statisticians would omit that case from the data. Anyway, Black Mambas are only actually rated at >95% from memory. Still scary, given that Taipans only rate >80% and like you said, a proper bite from either would be a death sentence without medical help (and even with it sometimes).

            • Grey Nomad June 25, 2016, 11:54 pm | Link

              The most deadly snake is the one you are involved with NOW. The Dugite in my gum boot on the verandah is way more of a threat to me than, say, a fierce snake out in the desert.

              • BobinOz June 26, 2016, 10:40 pm | Link

                Ha ha, yes, so true. Black mambas don’t scare me one little bit, not from where I’m sitting. 🙂

  • Anna Rogers October 20, 2015, 4:42 pm | Link

    Hi Bob. I found your website when looking for information about the chances of (dying from) snake-bite in Australia and found just what I needed to share with my tertiary students in the first year course Numeracy. Last year I looked up hitting a kangaroo and the year before being hit by a falling gum tree branch when driving. All of these things happened to me at a similar time of the year so you can tell that I have an interesting life with real world application of mathematics as part of it.
    Anyway, two weeks ago I was bitten by (what we believe was) a juvenile brown snake while standing under the orange tree, collecting oranges. It was the middle of the day, quite hot weather and I was only wearing sandals. My bad really but I wasn’t thinking about snakes at the time and there isn’t grass there just mulch and a low lying geranium bush. I was very lucky I believe and everyone has told me so. Whilst the bite was very sudden and painful it was what the hospital classified as a ‘dry bite’. Initially, we wrapped a leather belt below the knee, but the current practise is a compression bandage from the toes up to the knee and down again. My husband and son rushed me to the hospital which is about 20 minutes away and I was well attended to including observation every 30 minutes for the first three hours, then hourly; blood tests at 1, 3, 6 and 9 hours after the event; and rest. I felt itchiness and there was local swelling around the wound (which is now a good looking scar) quite ok just tired and a little fuzzy in the head but not abnormal. Fortunately, there was very little, if any venom given into the wound which the ambulance officers reported happens about 50% of the time. It is a serious warning to me about wearing appropriate footwear in the garden and I am grateful that I didn’t scare or threaten the snake when we unexpectedly ‘crossed paths’.
    I have enjoyed reading other stories on your website and thought I should write in. Kind Regards Anna

    • BobinOz October 21, 2015, 5:13 pm | Link

      Hi Anna

      Statistically speaking, and I’m sure you’ve done the maths, given that you have hit a kangaroo, had a gum tree branch fall on you when driving and been bitten by a snake, should you be staying indoors during thunderstorms? Or can you invoke the ‘lightning never strikes twice’ principle because, statistically, so much has happened to you that surely you are now done with unusual occurrences?

      Maybe that’s a question we don’t want to think about too much.

      On the plus side, you’ve survived each of these events and in the case of that juvenile snake, from what I hear you have been lucky. I’ve spoken to a few snake experts and they all suggest that juveniles are more prone to not only deliver venomous bites, but to also inject as much venom as possible as they have not yet learned how to release it in a more controlled way.

      Anyway, glad to hear from your point of view that it was a dry bite and it sounds like the hospital took good care of you when you got there. Must have been quite worrying at the time though. As for wearing sandals and gardening, I suspect most of us have done that kind of thing in the past. I always wear shorts when I’m doing the gardening and I know I shouldn’t really.

      It’s a lesson to us all, glad to hear you are okay though. Thanks for sharing your story, Bob

  • ian September 13, 2015, 11:02 pm | Link

    I’ve read a few more comments from above (not all yet – there’s so many), and some are quite long, so I thought I would explain my last comment better.

    First about statistics, imagine 2 scenarios (bear with me): You’re in a pub. You bump into a guy and he spills his beer.

    Scenario1: You go ‘sorry, my mistake’. Event ends.

    Scenario 2: ‘Hey – you spilt my beer’. You start swearing at the guy. You get punched in the nose.

    Even from this set of 2 events, we can write a statistic which says ‘50% of drunken encounters end with a punch in the nose’.

    Next time you spill a guys beer, does this mean you have a 50% chance of getting punched?

    Absolutely Not. You can write your own version of history by the way you act. Each new event is independent… you can draw statistics after the event, but it seldom works the other way.

    Hospitals don’t lie. Say 100 people turn up with confirmed Eastern Brown snake bites, and they find, lets say 70 people are eventually released, more or less unhurt. Of the rest, some would get a bit sick right on up to needing several doses of antivenom to stay alive. Then they can derive averages etc. The bottom line – snakes DO give dry bites, so the obvious question is – when is this dry biting occurring?

    All animals are fairly robotic really, including us. The more you hurt or threaten something, the more it tries to hurt you back, and vice versa.

    And just a few anecdotes:

    I’ve personally witnessed a 3ft Eastern Brown being stepped on by the bushwalker in front of me. It just ‘hung out’ for the 1 second the boot was on it then it continued on its way – without attempting to bite.

    I’ve also nearly stepped on 2 Mulga snakes, 1 or 2 Eastern Browns and a couple of Adelaide Hills Copperheads. They don’t always get out of the way (not until they’ve warmed up a bit).

    • BobinOz September 15, 2015, 12:36 am | Link

      Yeah, I’m a convert to this theory, I think it makes sense. If you corner a snake and try to capture it, it’s going to defend itself with everything it’s got.

      I doubt it will deliver a dry bite if it gets the chance to land one.

      If you accidentally step on a snake, then both you and he going to be pretty scared/worried for a bit. But if you get off of him and then back off, he’s gonna think “that’s a relief” and carry on on his way.

      Or, maybe, as you step on him briefly, he might deliver a dry bite. Of course, I’m sure there are exceptions to this. Just as there are psycho humans in pubs, I’m sure there are psycho snakes in the bush who don’t care whether you meant to tread on them or not. But by and large, I really do agree with you.

      • ian brown October 14, 2015, 12:15 am | Link

        I believe snakes are incredibly tolerant creatures if you treat them right – they even tolerate a degree of handling if you’re gentle, and you read their body language and don’t persist for too long (still, not a good idea). The one I saw get stomped on was just as an example of their tolerance.

        However, I think it all relates to pain (and fear). It must have had a bit of a soft bed of leaves (though I don’t remember seeing any). I doubt that most people stepping on them would be so lucky and would probably get a full dose, but yeah, if it felt no pain it could well be like “ok – glad that’s over” and on its way.

        Now I will shut up unless someone responds. My first comment here was my first ever into cyberspace – been going a bit berserk. Its your fault! This site seriously impressed me, by pointing out objectively, the actual danger our wildlife poses to us. Feel free to edit this last paragraph out when you read it.

        • BobinOz October 14, 2015, 9:50 pm | Link

          So I got you hooked on commenting, did I? Ha ha, that’s great, I’m quite pleased with myself 🙂

          I kind of agree with you, but I do wonder whether there are snake personalities, inasmuch as some snakes are easy-going while others are a little more aggressive. I’m not talking about different types of snakes, I’m wondering if we have laid-back eastern browns as well as aggressive eastern browns, for example. That would make sense to me.

          Obviously the best thing is to try and avoid stepping on a snake, I’m sure the snake would appreciate that as much as we would. I’m also pretty sure that most snakes would probably want to get away from that situation as quickly as possible, just as we would.

          As for handling snakes though, the only time I’m interested in that is when a nonvenomous snake is passed to me by an experienced snake handler. Like this…

          • ian October 15, 2015, 12:13 pm | Link

            Always wanted to do that. Problem is I usually see Eastern Browns and Mulgas, and they’re not THAT tolerant!

            Totally agree actually. I was just trying to keep it brief. Every species has its average disposition. There must be extremes at both ends of the spectrum. I guess it relates to how many times they had predators trying to eat them as kids. Also, there must be a genetic aspect to it (mutation – natural selection process). And I’m sure they can just have a bad day (still in pain from their last scuffle).

            Experts may disagree, but between us, I think we’ve got this one worked out!

            • Col B October 15, 2015, 4:08 pm | Link

              That includes all individual adult Snakes also have heightened aggressive nature during mating season in which they stand their ground in defensive mode just like the Alamo.

              • BobinOz October 15, 2015, 8:37 pm | Link

                Bearing in mind of course that we also have pleasant as well as psychopathic humans. So I suppose snakes are entitled to be similarly disposed.

                Good point as well Col B, in the animal world, as well as the human one, the male during mating season (that means going down the pub for some young human males) and protecting babies for the females is a time when they will be the most defensive/aggressive.

                All we need to do as peeps is understand that and give them some space.

              • ian October 16, 2015, 8:21 am | Link

                Yeah, I completely ignored that aspect – cheers

  • Ian September 9, 2015, 8:34 pm | Link

    People need to be careful when trying to interpret stats / averages etc. A snake may have a rate of envenoming of 20 – 40%. This does not mean you have a 20 – 40% chance of being envenomated if you happen to get bitten.

    This is just my theory, but it makes perfect sense:

    If you hit a snake with a stick, or cheese it off by constantly cutting off its escape route, then it bites you – now its probably 100% envenomation. It thinks its going to be killed and it is fighting for its life (but whose fault would that be??).

    The flip side is that if you surprise a snake and it bites, this is when they dry bite. In other words, if a snake bites you and you haven’t actually hurt it, or wound it up too much, you would probably be very unlikely to cop a dose.

    Like I said, just a theory of mine – and consider a snake that’s just been stomped on by a roo, then it meets you and bites. You may cop a dose without deserving it.

    • BobinOz September 10, 2015, 3:16 pm | Link

      Nice theory Ian, I like it. If anyone else has an option on this, we’d love to hear from you.

  • Adrian March 10, 2014, 12:59 pm | Link

    These stats are stupid, they don’t paint a real picture of the dangers of snakes. E.g If you don’t go outside when there is lighting, you won’t be hit, same goes for snakes, if you don’t go walking around a snakes habitat, you won’t be bitten. Most farmers in Australia get bitten by a venomous snake more than once in their life, because farmers work in the snakes habitat. Farmers don’t get hit by lighting too often, much rarer than a snake bite.

    I know person who died in 2 minutes from a taipan bite, the taipan was huge, I call these taipans king taipans, one bite from one of these and you’re gone, lucky they only live in very secluded areas.

    • BobinOz March 10, 2014, 11:22 pm | Link

      Okay, so nationally recognised statistics are stupid, but you’re hearsay stories and tales from the outback are what we should all be paying attention to?

      Nice one Adrian. 🙂

  • edward March 1, 2014, 5:59 pm | Link

    2014 still clinging to the crown? Why? Why should an old woman back in mother England STILL (2014) be able to tell the entire population of a continent: NO ! Simply be refusing her REQUIRED assent? She wasn’t elected & did nothing to earn it other than having been born…which we’ve all managed. Why? What’s wrong with you people? You’d be better off an American state. Reject the crown & we’ll let you in the union…snakes & all.

    • BobinOz March 1, 2014, 11:38 pm | Link

      Are you all right Edward? I’m a bit worried about you.

      • Col B. March 2, 2014, 4:14 pm | Link

        I may not know who Edward is, but I certainly got the point of what he’s saying. He’s referring to both the English monarch and the US government in which both are cabal elites (snakes). He should be making comments like this elsewhere on your blogs like anything to do with the state of the economy.

        • BobinOz March 4, 2014, 12:23 am | Link

          Hi Col B, I thought that was the kind of thing Edward was talking about, I simply couldn’t see the connection with this page. I’ve heard all about the shadowy elite, the illuminati and the reptilian bloodline, but I thought it was lizards not snakes?

          Edward, you need to post your views on my page Kate and Wills Fever Down Under.

          Cheers, Bob

          • Col B. March 4, 2014, 1:23 am | Link

            Lizards,yes, but not as in an expression like “Snakes”, Another expression is “Weasels”. These Lizard/reptilian bloodlines, according to conspiracy , are working with the elite cabal to try rid 80 to 90 per-cent of the world’s human population, the other 10 to 20 per-cent becoming slaves. Thus we have the expression that both the Elite and Reptilians are “Weasels” or “Snakes”.

            • BobinOz March 5, 2014, 12:29 am | Link

              Poor old snakes, they always seem to get dragged into this kind of thing when all they really want to do is keep themselves to themselves and maybe grab the odd small snack from nature now and again.

              I think it even started in the Bible.

              Doesn’t seem fair…

              • Col B. March 5, 2014, 3:35 am | Link

                I agree wholeheartedly. Those nutjobs in question likes the expression “Silent Killer” as their motto.

  • Col B. February 27, 2014, 3:31 am | Link

    Tell the tourists to don saddle up onto the backs of Shellback Ticks for a canter ride to Fat Lump Armpitville. For a Bull’s ride, tell ’em to go on the backs of Jumping Jack Ants to Bigga-Bulge Neckton and they’ll get the meaning of agony. On the contrary, tell ’em for desserts to beware of falling Koalas – or drop bears. 🙂

    • BobinOz March 1, 2014, 1:09 am | Link

      You are obviously referring to russell coights comment above, but I’ll tell them all the same 🙂

      Cheers Col B!

      Whatever anyone decides to ride, make sure it isn’t a drop bear.

  • Col B November 20, 2013, 6:46 am | Link

    How about lobbying to make law compulsory for all rural school caretakers to mow the yards at all times and have a trained guard dog in each school to shoo snakes away?

    • BobinOz November 20, 2013, 8:35 pm | Link

      Well Col B (good to hear from you again, by the way) there’s already a law against killing snakes, they’re not taking much notice of that, are they? Breaking the law for this school seems to be part of the curriculum.

  • edward November 20, 2013, 5:05 am | Link

    You might differently if your child attended the school.

    • kristen November 20, 2013, 4:56 pm | Link

      not sure what you are saying but my children do attend the school

      • BobinOz November 20, 2013, 8:33 pm | Link

        Hi Kristen

        I think what scares me most about what the school is doing is that they are teaching the children is it’s a good idea to attack and attempt to kill a snake whenever they see one. That can only lead to problems and it is certainly not in the best interests of the children.

        On that basis maybe you can remind the headmaster that he is not really protecting the children at all, or ‘teaching’ (the thing he is being paid to do) them the best thing to do.

        Thanks for keeping us up to date with your exchanges with the school, please keep us informed if you can, I’m keen to know how this one will end up.

        Cheers, Bob

  • Kristen November 19, 2013, 9:33 pm | Link

    Thank you so much for your quick replies, I am really glad that there is support for my way of thinking. I live in a rural area of central qld near gladstone, so we do have a number of dangerous snakes but in the most part we see mostly tree snakes and pythons. I wrote a long five page letter this morning setting out the various reasons why this practice needs to stop immediately. I received a reply this afternoon, which consisted of three paragraphs stating that he has the interests of the students to consider and that they are too far from town to wait for parks and wildlife to arrive.(30 mins at most).
    I was basically fobbed off! This has made me a little furious to be honest and I have replied to him already, here is a copy of my reply

    Thank you for replying so quickly to my concerns, .

    I still do not think that you are taking into consideration the implication your policy has on students. I am not suggesting that the students watch the killings but they are made fully aware of what has occurred (and they were present for the killing when the parent crushed the baby tree snake with her shoe). This results in them thinking that it is an acceptable practice to approach and attempt to kill snakes. This is under no circumstances an acceptable result. Couple this with the fact that one of the teachers who has since killed a snake, told a group when snakes were mentioned, that if she sees a snake she will grab a shovel and cut its head off. The students in the group went on to talk about how they kill snakes. This is once again, teachers modelling unsafe behaviour and considering that she has gone on to practice what she preached the modelling has been reinforced.

    I do not believe, from what I have been told, that any of these snake (save the one you mentioned) were a threat to students or staff. By all accounts the one on Monday was a harmless tree snake. If the snake had been threatening anyone at the time then of course this is a different situation and desperate measures could be considered.

    You have failed to take any consideration for the laws of this country. It is an offence to kill native Australian animals without a permit. So once again the actions that you have taken (you meaning school policy,not you personally) is modelling unsavoury behaviour yet expecting your students to work within the law. This is not acceptable.

    If you look up any information regarding how to deal with snakes, without fail, experts agree that the only safe way is to remove yourself from the situation. Expecting your staff members to approach snakes is a breach of workplace health and safety guidelines.

    I am not trying to be difficult but I feel very strongly about this situation and do not believe that your school policy is safe.

    Thank you

    Kristen Stewart .

    I await his reply, I had not considered the points that Geoff made regarding the removal of one snake will lead to another turning up, hence the problem carrying on indefinately, I will definately add that to any subsequent correspondance. I have been in contact with a friend in the education department and she has given me the number to ring if I wish to make a formal complaint, if I have no joy I intend to go down that road, however I hope it doesn’t come to that, it is a small school and I don’t want my kids life to be effected by my sticking my nose in, if you know what I mean. Being a rural area for some reason many locals consider killing snakes to be perfectly acceptable behaviour. I find it abhorrent and do not intend to allow it to go on any longer.
    Thank you for the link I will send the relevant information in my next email, along with some quotes from your reply and from this page, the man must be made aware of the danger he is placing his staff and students in.

    Thanks again,

    Kristen

  • Geoff Coombe November 19, 2013, 7:40 pm | Link

    G’day Kristen

    After over 40 years trying to educate people about snakes in Australia by public displays, training courses, demonstrations & one-on-one with residents on callouts in their backyards, it’s attitudes as you have described which lead me to despair.

    One would hope that teachers (of all people) could have a better understanding of the value of snakes, including venomous species. Depending on where you are in Qld, some of the snakes could have been pythons, blind snakes or colubrids (e.g. tree snakes) all of which are generally considered harmless.

    The majority of the venomous land snakes of Australia as not considered dangerous, being mostly small to medium in size. Yes Qld may have a higher proportion of potentially dangerous snakes but even they are well known by herpetologists to prefer to escape the attention of humans than suffer from an altercation.

    The notion of habitually killing snakes neglects several points worth remembering (in addition to others you have mentioned): removing one from an area is likely to create an incentive for another snake over time to occupy the same area (for shelter sites & food) & by far the best way to get bitten is to “have a go”.

    A bite from a brown snake can appear trivial & a person may ignore it thinking they got away with bashing the snake, until later when the basher collapses. By then it’s probably too late to even call an ambulance.

    Do the teachers fully understand the peril in which they are potentially placing the kids? One of the highest risk groups for snake bite are primary age children. What if an adult botches the kill & an injured (& in pain) snake escapes under a school building? Have they not considered their duty of care?

    If a person is not skilled in catching venomous snakes it is imperative that they do not interfere with one, particularly any of the brown snake species (which cause the most bites & deaths from snake bite in Australia).

    Perhaps the last word should come from one of the country’s most prominent clinical toxinologists who said that “…prevention of bites is a vital element in the reduction of snake bite fatalities.”

    For more information go to the toxinology resources website at http://www.toxinology.com which also includes the most up to date information on snake bite first aid.

    The teachers should at least know what to do when a kid gets bitten after the event.

    Regards Geoff

  • Kristen November 19, 2013, 12:11 am | Link

    I found your page whilst looking for statistics on how many people are bitten whilst trying to kill a snake. My problem is the school that my children go to seem to have the rediculous policy of killing snakes when ever they see them on the school grounds. They killed the fifth one this year on Friday and I am totally horrified by their actions. Not mentioning the fact that it is illegal (this is a state school btw) and cruel to extremes, the fact cannot be glossed over that these teachers are teaching kids that approaching snakes is okay…. And it is not! The one they killed on Friday was apparently a tree snake, the teacher involved actually told the children this, it is beyond my comprehension that they can justify their actions to themselves let alone anyone else. I am in the process of composing a letter to the principal, hence my looking for statistics. I am keen to find qld govt policy on snake handling but so far I am having issues with negotiating the policies on the qld govt. web page. What I really need is some expert advise that I can use to try and convince the principal that his schools actions are reckless and outright dangerous. If I am unsuccessful at this stage I intend to go higher, but if you could give me any useful info or ammunition I can use that would be great, thanks

    • BobinOz November 19, 2013, 6:46 pm | Link

      Hi Kristen

      I am as disgusted as you are about this, and agree that this is a shocking message to be sending to the children. Have they not heard of snake catchers?

      I can assure you it is illegal to kill a snake in Queensland and I think it is also illegal in all other states, snakes are protected species. It is also the case that attempting to kill a snake is far more likely to lead to your death than ignoring it or removing yourself from the situation and calling a snake catcher.

      So yes, I really do think you should write a strong letter to the principal and demand that this practice cease immediately, maybe you can (sarcastically if you prefer) provide them with the names of a few snake catchers. If they don’t take any notice, then I think you would have to take it higher, their actions are nothing short of outrageous.

      As for killing a tree snake, why? They are a totally harmless and quite timid snake, they present no danger to children whatsoever.

      I am going to see if I can get hold of my snake expert Geoff Coombe and get his opinion. I’m sure he will be as disgusted as we are, and maybe he can offer some advice.

      Please do let us know how you get on after sending in that letter.

      Cheers, Bob

  • HeidiBacardi October 20, 2013, 11:07 pm | Link

    I found your website this afternoon after looking up how to scare away snakes on Google. Have read the whole thread – it’s fascinating! My interest was because, on a 5 acre plot about 40km south west of Perth, WA, we have several sightings of snakes every year and as a Pom (an ex-Pom? – just got our Aussie citizenship hurrah!!) it does freak me out. (Actually I think when it comes to snakes a Pom is always going to struggle to be truly Australian).

    I was mowing our back lawn this afternoon (the bit closest to the house) and I saw a tiger snake curled up in the sun. It was almost black and looked wet, and for a second I hoped it was dead but then it decided it didn’t like all the noise and slithered off into the wood pile 🙂 Thank goodness summer’s nearly here and I don’t need wood!

    We saw 4 or 5 snakes last year – dugites and tiger snakes, with the most scary being a tiger of about 2m heading towards the house in a very determined fashion. It was only when when we both jumped up and down that it stopped, then turned round and went in the other direction. What also scares me is the babies – it’s very hard to tell a baby dugite from a lizard, and I’ve been led to believe that the babies are far more dangerous than the adults. A friend of ours just had their dog (a boxer) killed by a baby dugite only about 10cm long.

    So I’m taking some consolation from the fact that you guys all say leave a snake alone and it will leave you alone….hope you’re right, don’t want to be a statistic, however rare!!

    • BobinOz October 21, 2013, 8:02 pm | Link

      Sounds like you have already learnt the art of snake repelling, just jump up and down 🙂

      By and large, yes, snakes will leave you alone, problems occur when you don’t see the snake and it doesn’t see or hear you and you ‘bump into each other’, as in you might tread on a snake.

      Leaving them alone is the best defence, it’s a shame that dogs (and cats) do not understand that rule.

      Cheers, Bob

  • Eric H. June 16, 2013, 9:16 am | Link

    I stumbled across your site out of curiosity. I found it funny that I lived in Florida in the USA for almost my entire life and personally know of one family member who was bitten by a snake (my grandfather by a pygmy rattlesnake on the hand while gardening and he lived though the snake bite did bring to his Doctors attention he had pancreatic cancer of which he did eventually die of. It’s funny I was more fascinated by the snakes of Australia than my own country. I’ve run into about 8 different kinds of Rattlesnake, Coral Snakes, Water Moccasins (while running on a trail by a stream, I stepped over one not realizing till I was already over it that it was a water moccasin, thought it was a branch) and Copper Heads to name just a few and they are all poisonous. The reaction I encountered was that they all tried to get away from me or (in the case of a few the Rattle Snakes) took up a defensive warning posture to tell me to move away. I think your statistics for the danger of being bitten and dying from a snake bite is accurate, in fact the last two snake bites I heard of in Florida were by a King Cobra and Pit Viper on herpetologists. Which leads me to the assumption that those who put themselves in a position to handle snakes are at the most risk.

    • BobinOz June 17, 2013, 2:20 pm | Link

      Very true Eric, for the most part snakes would rather run away from us than stay and fight. I think anyone who gets bitten is either very unlucky, or they have tried to handle the snake for some reason or maybe they have tried to kill it. That’s not a clever thing to attempt and will often end in tears.

      Cheers

      Bob

  • Julia June 12, 2013, 5:56 pm | Link

    I’m from the USA. I’ve lived in every region of the country, and snakes scare the crap out of me. Since I’m looking to visit Au and NZ in a trip, I googled “snakes and Australia and New Zealand.” Since I’ve personally poisonous snake bites and grown up around water moccasins, copperheads, diamond backs, and coral snakes- (btw the water moccasins are the really scary ones- they stalk people and bite unprovoked- first hand knowledge!) The death count I’m sure is low but what is the number of people bitten? SInce I moved up north, I’ve been fortunate to avoid poisonous snakes and I personally don’t care for them. I don’t go out and hunt snakes or hurt animals- I just avoid them as much as possible and I’m not observant enough to be on the look-out and prefer not to. If I stayed in major cities can I avoid snakes?

    • BobinOz June 12, 2013, 9:00 pm | Link

      Well Julia, it’s very rare for any of our snakes to stalk people, they much prefer to slither away into the distance unnoticed. As for how many people get bitten by snakes, I can certainly answer that; estimates suggest it’s about 1100 -1200 people a year. Deaths though are, as you say, very low.

      Check out my page…

      Australia’s Killer Creatures and Death

      …where I’ll tell you all of the numbers you need to know about deaths and also let you know exactly which is Australia’s most fearsome killer creature!

      I hope you have a great trip here, I’m sure you will, cheers, Bob

    • Bianca June 12, 2013, 9:13 pm | Link

      Julia, you may have uncovered this already by doing your homework on Australia and NZ but if not, you will find NZ has no snakes. None at all – not even in Zoos, not even little harmless grass ones. There are teeny geckos in some hills but you have to look for them, hard. The worst thing you will come across in NZ is probably Kea’s. They are birds found in the Alpine area’s in the South Island and they are known to steal your lunch and have damaged cars. They are cheeky but loveable little sods. On the Australia side of things, I was pretty worried about snakes when we first moved here. I live in the Hills region, South Australia and while I haven;t seen a snake in the wild yet, my friends who live on country lands tell me they have seen them on their properties but they tend to take off once they hear you approach. If you go bush anywhere, just make sure you make a bit of noise when you walk, wear long pants and be mindful. I highly doubt you will see one if you are visiting cities and sticking to urban areas. Good luck with your trip.

      • BobinOz June 25, 2013, 7:40 pm | Link

        You may be interested to know that I have been working closely with a snake expert Geoff Coombe recently and we are proud to launch a new book called Living with Snakes.

        It may be worth you checking it out.

        Cheers

        Bob

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