Snake Season in Australia: Keeping Children & Pets Safe

There’s no such thing as “Snake Season” really, but as the temperatures rise during early spring here, so do snake sightings and encounters. Already this year we’ve had three stories in the news.

Firstly, I heard that in Wynnum, which is in east Brisbane on Bayside, a 2 metre long carpet Python (which is a non-venomous snake) like this one…

Carpet python

…was spotted crossing the road. There was also a sighting of a red bellied black (which is venomous) close to Wynnum Memorial Park. That was on 16 September and you can read more at the Courier Mail.

It’s at this time of year that snakes are on the move looking for a mate, that’s why we are seeing more activity; the guy snakes are looking for a girlfriend snake.

Three days earlier the news covered a story of how a dog “saves family” from a poisonous brown snake. The YouTube video has now been taken down, but I watched it and I could see no evidence that the snake was attacking any family members, but I’m sure the parents feel more comfortable now that the snake is gone.

It’s great to see that Geoff the Staffie survived his encounter, this next dog wasn’t so lucky.

This item may have only hit the news today, but it was on September 12 when Bonnie the border collie got bitten by an eastern brown snake in Acacia Ridge, which is about 12 kilometres east of where I live. She didn’t survive. Again, the full story is at the Courier Mail.

My own snake/pet story dates back to last month; it was on 18 August that I discovered a small and, unfortunately, dead baby snake in my back garden.

The killer would have undoubtedly been one of my cats and from the photographs my snake expert tells me that he tends to believe this was a young brown snake, probably around 12 months old…

baby snake Baby snake close up

Which ever one of my cats attacked this poor snake was lucky to survive; even a baby snake has enough venom to kill an adult, let alone a cat. I’m not proud of the fact that my cats attack wildlife like this, and I truly wish that they wouldn’t. On the other hand though, with a young daughter who often plays in the garden with her friends, I’m not keen on the world’s second most venomous snake being in the same place at the same time either.

Keeping children and pets safe from snakes


The problem with cats and dogs is that they are often either very inquisitive, or aggressive. Any snake sighting is bound to provoke a response.

The best way to keep your cats and dogs safe from snakes is, of course, to keep them indoors. For the most part, our dog is an indoor dog, other than letting her out to go to the toilet. Our dog also gets regular exercise from being taken to the dog park which is fenced.

Although a snake could easily get into the area, any snake would have to be suicidal to hang around in a dog park.

Our cats are outdoor cats during the day, but we inherited them when they were 8 years old as outdoor cats, so switching them to indoor cats didn’t seem right.

Indoor cats do, on average, live much longer than outdoor cats, not just because of snakes, but also because they are safe from ticks, traffic, dogs, possums, other aggressive cats and the many infectious diseases that they can catch from other cats.


The best thing you can do for your children, yourself and your pets is to keep your garden and surrounding outdoor area as tidy as possible.

  • Keep the grass cut short.
  • Keep the weeds down.
  • Keep outdoor sheds and garages tidy.
  • Don’t pile up compost, weeds or cuttings in your yard.
  • Don’t leave out any food or water sources for snakes.
  • Be aware that ponds and water features can attract snakes.
  • Basically, eliminate all sources of cover under which a snake could hide.

Doing these sort of things will not safeguard your garden from snakes, but it will mean if a snake is on your property you’re more likely to see it. It also makes it less likely a snake will want to go onto your property as snakes much prefer to roam around under cover and in thick vegetation.

When out and about, never walk in long grass or weeds and never put your hands into an area where you can’t see what might be in there.

Further information:

There’s much more information in Geoff’s book, that’s Geoff the snake catcher, not Geoff the Staffie, which has a whole host of information about snake safety, keeping your pets safe and protecting your home from snakes.

It has a complete chapter on pets with some fascinating facts and figures on the numbers of pets that get bitten by snakes each year, along with the survival rates for both cats and dogs.

Finally, just to be clear, I’m telling you this not to scare you, but to make you aware. Living in constant fear of snakes is not the Australian way, being aware of the dangers and knowing what the true risks are is.

After all, us humans like to come out to play in the Australian heat as well.

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{ 35 comments… add one }
  • Sharon September 7, 2018, 11:00 pm |

    Hi, I am so torn, I want to bring my two three year old cats with me to Oz ( I have had them since they were kittens) but I am worried about the snakes and the heat of WA, also the two long flights and the 10 days in quarantine. Plus we are going to my husband’s and my son, who lives there, is allergic. A friend, here in the UK, will have them for me but I really don’t want to leave them, it feels like such a betrayal. What is best for them?

    • BobinOz September 10, 2018, 7:33 pm |

      Well, this is a decision only you can make, but I will tell you a little story that may help.

      Me and my wife used to run a pet care business here in Australia some years ago, visiting people’s houses and feeding their cats and dogs while they were away on holiday.

      One of our regular customers, a retired couple, had a pair of beautiful seven-year-old Burmese cats who were twin brothers. The woman absolutely adored these cats, so we were shocked when they asked us if we could take them permanently from them as they needed to find a new home for them.

      Apparently they wanted to move into an apartment which wouldn’t take cats.

      Anyway, we agreed and we thought they would take ages to settle in, we imagined they would pine for their old owners. We inherited a Labrador that was just three years old once, he pined for months and months and months.

      But these two cats? Nothing of it! It was like, “So this is where we live now, is it? Where’s the milk?” That’s cats for you.

      So no, you won’t be betraying them, and you certainly seem to have some quite genuine concerns about bringing them here. You didn’t say what their ages are, but the older they are, the more inclined I would be to leave them with your friend.

      As I say though, only you can make the decision, but in my experience, your cats will be just fine with whatever you decide. Good luck, Bob

      • Sharon Yarwood September 11, 2018, 5:26 pm |

        They are three years old, Bob. Thanks so much for the advice. I moved in two weeks ago with the friend who will be having them and as yet they have kept away from him. I will be with him for two and a half more months and have decided if they seem happy with him I will leave them. If not I will bring them.

        • BobinOz September 11, 2018, 7:05 pm |

          Thanks Sharon, whatever you decide, I hope it all works out well. Good luck, Bob

  • Nev December 22, 2015, 2:01 am |

    Hey Geoff , I live in the southwest of wa in Busselton probably 400 metres from the beach for. About 3 years in a row now we have had dugites come into our yard
    First out the back where my golden retreiver chased the snake from the back alfresco ( he thinks he’s pretty good these days he played with a sea snake down the beach a couple of years ago and lived )which did have a water bowl there ,luckily the wife grabbed him by the tail
    I then blocked off all avenues as my wife said it escaped under the fence but a few weeks later she saw it going into the garage so obviously it had hung around got snake man in and he took it away .next year we were going out opened the front garage door and it was picked up by the door and dropped near my foot and wanted to come into the garage I fended it off with a toy plastic shovel (not advisable )as it wanted to come into the garage anyway long story short it took off we lost sight of it and it reappeared 3 days later on the front lawn right in the middle of three of those snake vibrational things (great) and took off across the road I heard that someone killed one in the next street (it was on his front porch.)And again two days ago I walked outside
    On my front porch and nearly trod on one , anyway it took off up the street after I persuaded it to with a long handle rake and the guy whose yard it entered disposed of it nicely .
    There were groynes down the beach which they redirected because of the weed problem so we are thinking they may have come from there but that’s all finished now
    And there is some revegitated bush down there as well also a lot of rabbits around the area and the guy next door has a lot of bush out the front I suppose they could hide in there ? Someone also told me that lawn clipping from the compost tumbler attracts them or is because they come back to the same spot where other snakes have been ? My wife also feeds the dogs raw roo meat that’s in the garage fridge would that attract them, any help great fully received

    • BobinOz December 30, 2015, 7:07 pm |

      I’m afraid Geoff doesn’t appear to be around at the moment, but I’m sure if he does see this at some point he would try and help. Dugites do like sandy areas and they would also love that vegetation patch with rabbits in it, so I’m not really sure what you can do about their presence around your home. I wouldn’t be taking them on with plastic shovels though, as you know, a bite from one of these things could be fatal. I’d be inclined to just shut the door again and wait for them to slither off, they don’t usually hang around in the company of humans.

      As you’ve already realised, those vibration things are absolutely hopeless. They are a protected species as well, you can be fined for killing them, I think up to $4000. Even more incentive to shut the door and leave them be. Sorry I can’t be more help though, I know how much of a worry it must be seeing these things around regularly. Hope you find a solution, good luck, Bob

      • Geoff Coombe December 30, 2015, 9:20 pm |

        G’day Nev
        Dugites are one of the two most common species of large venomous snakes in S/W WA (the other is the Tiger Snake).
        Like some other brown snakes, Dugites have adapted to living in close proximity to humans when we provide the shelter & food they need.
        You may be close to the beach & bush areas where the snakes naturally live but if they can find a ready supply of rodents (which most properties have) & shelter sites (any debris laying on or close to the ground), they may be encouraged to visit you. And worse, hang around.
        If at possible fit rubber weather seals on the outside & bottom of any exterior doors (house, garage etc). This will stop snakes from becoming more of a nuisance inside a building.
        A broom is a good instrument to safely remove a snake if it does get inside as it can be swept along in front of you towards an opened door & sent on its way outside. If you try this ensure you have long trousers & covered footwear for protection (even rubber boots would be OK).
        Lawn clippings can be attractive to a female snake at this time of the year when she may lay her eggs in a warm, sheltered & moist environment.
        They don’t tend to seek the “company” of other snakes, as they are mostly solitary creatures. I cannot see why a snake would be attracted to roo meat, whether or not it is in the fridge. Snakes generally prefer live food, with very few eating carrion.
        There are numerous authentic examples around Australia of various snakes not being deterred by electronic devices (or chemical sprays too).
        My main worry about them is that a property owner might think they are a quick fix when they see a snake & not address why snakes are in the area in the first place. Jamming one or more devices in the ground is a lot easier than cleaning up a messy property & doing something about a mouse problem.
        Hope that helps Nev.
        I’ll try to monitor Bob’s page more regularly.
        Regards Geoff

  • Seth Pywell May 30, 2015, 9:10 pm |

    Hey Geoff,
    Please feel free to check out my Canine – Snake Avoidance Training page on my website
    We where specifically approached by Search & Rescue personnel to train their dogs to avoid geographically relevant venomous snakes and we have since opened such training up to the general public.

  • Ash November 1, 2014, 4:36 pm |

    Seriously keep your dog inside…. This is not at all helpful in any way keeping him inside all day while I’m at work is not an option his a puppy and very inquisitive he will harass any snake he sees there has to be something that can be more preventative

    • BobinOz November 3, 2014, 5:06 pm |

      Well if you come up with any better ideas Ash, we’d all love to hear it. The way I see it there are only two options, to snake proof your garden, and that isn’t easy, or train your dog to steer clear of snakes. That won’t be easy either.

      Keeping your dog inside, that’s easy.

  • Geoff Coombe January 11, 2014, 2:39 pm |

    Fair point Bob.

    A fit adult should be able to outrun any Australian snake in the open. But what if you have to move amongst grass or negotiate bushes or debris to escape? A legless animal (= a snake) may be more able to move through such cover faster than a human.

    I would agree that putting space between you and a snake sounds a good idea. If it is close though, standing still would be better than jumping back & running. A danger when someone is frightened in these circumstances can be that the person trips & now cannot move away.

    Being face to face on the ground with a venomous snake is not a good idea. It’s even worse if you trip & land on it.

    Regards Geoff

    • BobinOz January 13, 2014, 2:27 pm |

      Fair point back Geoff, falling over in your haste would not be ideal.

      Cheers, Bob

    • Jane September 22, 2015, 3:10 pm |

      Stand still? Or move away carefully? Good point about racing away and falling over: I can see myself doing that in a blind panic. But is it really best to stand still rather than move away slowly?

      I’m terrified of snakes so would greatly appreciate the information, thanks, Geoff.

      • BobinOz September 23, 2015, 12:50 am |

        I am not sure if Geoff is still monitoring these posts, but standing still is a tactic that I have heard many snake experts suggest is the best action to take.Snakes only react to movement, apparently, so my personal view is that as difficult as it seems, standing still when a snake is very close is probably the best option. When a snake is three or four meters away, it may be better to move away quickly, without falling over.

        There’s more on this here…

  • Geoff Coombe January 9, 2014, 3:03 pm |

    Thongs are not as good as wearing solid footwear & trousers. Instead of a plastic bucket, next time try using a kitchen or yard broom if you have a snake near (or in) a building.
    Because of the long handle you can keep a good distance from the “bitey” end while sweeping the frightened creature across the floor & in the direction you want it to go.
    Using a hand broom would be a bit risky.
    Regards Geoff

    • BobinOz January 9, 2014, 4:41 pm |

      Hi Dee, yes, I do sell Geoffs book here, and very good it is too. You can read more here: Living with Snakes.

      Geoff, I think what many people would like to know is is this. Standing still is often advised in some situations as snakes tend to ignore non-moving objects. So, when someone sees a snake, is it so wrong to run like Billio? In other words, run away in the opposite direction as fast as possible?

      Surely we can outrun snakes? And surely a snake wouldn’t bother to give chase anyway?

  • Dee Smith January 9, 2014, 2:18 pm |

    Thank you for your suggestions. When next faced with the problem I’ll be better prepared. You’ll get a laugh on me with my first snake episode, twenty years ago now: a dugite appeared on our front verandah. I panicked and ran out the back door, grabbed a plastic bucket and headed out to find the snake to scare it off. At the time my footwear was a pair of thongs! Now is that dumb or is that dumb? Thankfully the creature had continued on its journey and wasn’t seen again. D

  • Geoff Coombe January 9, 2014, 9:43 am |

    Oops not sure what happened there Dee but I have more to add.
    Where was the snake seen at the time? When (i.e. what time of the year). And what was it doing? Was it moving or basking in the early morning for example.
    The behavior of Eastern Brown Snakes has been studied in great detail by scientists, including specifically what happens when humans & snakes interact. Since Dugites are a species of brown snake, it would be reasonable to think that there may be similarities in their behavior.
    I have been working closely with venomous snakes since the early 1970s, including both species you mention.
    What I know echoes what has been found from the scientific studies about the behavior of snakes: if you are not perceived by a snake as a potential threat it will have no reason to “attack” you. Mostly they respond to movement so the idea of keeping still has merit when a snake is close by. The problem can be if a snake itself is moving & if so frightened by a human tries to get to somewhere safe, it may move in your direction to go to the nearest cover. You may think you are being “chased” or “attacked” & have to defend yourself.
    Add the sometimes spectacular defensive display of a Tiger Snake or Dugite & an unknowing human is convinced the snake is out to get them.
    In a nutshell, stay still while watching the snake to see what it will do. If it heads towards you try not to panic, but don’t do anything to disturb it while it goes to ground somewhere.
    If you want more information, Bob sells my ebook that goes into detail about human-snake interactions, with up-to-date information about snake bite first aid too.
    Hope that helps you.
    Regards Geoff

  • Geoff Coombe January 9, 2014, 9:01 am |

    Dee you have the perennial dilemma of anyone in Australia who may regularly have snakes on their property.
    What to do when confronted by a snake may depend on the circumstances.

  • Dee Smith January 8, 2014, 8:08 pm |

    Living on a large farm in the south of Western Australia, snakes are always an issue. Thankfully we have two racehorse goannas living here too, great snake deterrents. My question is: please advise what I should do when unexpectedly facing a snake (dugite or tiger) that’s aware of my presence. Do I stop still, hoping the creature won’t continue on its journey via my feet, or do I back off quickly?

  • Geoff Coombe January 2, 2014, 10:14 am |

    Training dogs to keep away from snakes does appear to be “doable” Bob as there is evidence that it has been successful overseas.

    Would it work with our snakes? There are a few people in South Australia who are currently looking at trialling the idea here, but it’s very early days.

    If it seems feasible I’ll let you know of our progress.

    Regards Geoff

    • BobinOz January 5, 2014, 9:00 pm |

      Well, if it is feasible Geoff, I’m sure it’s the way to go. Yes, please do let me know of your progress, very interesting.

      Still trying to train my dog not to bark at the moon 🙂

      Cheers, Bob

    • Jane September 22, 2015, 3:06 pm |

      I think that depends on the breed. Jack Russells are the ultimate ratters, by deliberate breading and I doubt training would win out over that instinct. Probably any small beasties attempting to take up residence with his family are fair game to a JR, hence their popularity.

      • BobinOz September 23, 2015, 12:41 am |

        First time I’ve seen ‘Jack Russells’ and ‘training’ in the same sentence 🙂 I agree, it would be hard work to stop them from getting involved in any kind of fracas with an intruder.

  • Geoff Coombe December 30, 2013, 10:30 am |

    Tania, making a “snake proof” fence is possible, up to a point. Material-wise it is fairly simple by buying a quantity of shade cloth (or similar) at least 1.5 metres wide, the length obviously depending on how big an area you wish to enclose. If you have larger snakes in your area shade cloth up to 2 metres wide would be better.
    Fix about 3/4 of it (with staples, nails, wire, however) vertically to the outside (“snake side”) of an existing fence so that it is secure around the perimeter of the area to be protected. Do not cut the shade cloth at ground level, rather allow the other 1/4 to lay over the ground so that it is shaped like an ‘L’, with the apron on the “snake side”.
    You must somehow fix the horizontal part of the shade cloth to the ground so that a snake cannot crawl under it. This may be by using pegs, rocks, soil, rubble, or even burying the leading edge of it. This aspect is very important to do correctly otherwise the fence will not serve its purpose.
    You should have fixed the shade cloth at the top of your existing fence & also the bottom of the fence where the apron goes out at ground level.
    You could make an entirely enclosed area for your pets this way, but what about access to it? A gate is the weak point.
    Having said all of this, there can be a significant danger: if the “snake proof” area is not maintained & a venomous snake is able to enter it, the problem for your dogs is potentially worse as now a snake may not be able to quickly find its way out before being attacked (& a dog is bitten).
    If you are not sure or want more information let me know.
    Regards Geoff

    • BobinOz January 1, 2014, 11:15 pm |

      There’s your answer Tanya, Geoff (thanks Geoff) is a snake expert. It’s doable, but also not ideal if a snake does get in. Would be great if you could train your dogs to leave snakes alone, but I suspect that’s not doable 🙂

  • Tanya December 29, 2013, 9:42 pm |

    After a very expensive run in with our 2 dogs and 1 brown snake, I would like to “snake” fence a run area for our dogs. I know that the fence would probably not be 100%, but our Jack Russell will just keep on hunting them out, and our Douge de Bordeaux is stupid enough to join in, hence two bitten dogs. We live outside Mackay in Qld and are surrounded by cane. Do you have any fencing suggestions for us? I know all snakes can climb, I’m just wondering if there is no food source and an obstacle in the way of a fence, if the browns and taipans would be more inclined to follow the mouse & snake netting and go around?

  • scot October 1, 2013, 7:00 pm |

    Brown snakes, BTW, unlike most other snakes, are not afraid of you, and will aggressively and actively stalk you.

    • Geoff Coombe October 2, 2013, 10:00 am |

      Not my experience with any type of brown snake Scot.
      The majority of my work with snakes over 40 years has been with different browns. My particular bag is understanding how they behave when in the vicinity of people (one or more humans).
      Definitely one of Australia’s most nervous snakes, but if you know how to behave when one is nearby, there is no reason why a brown snake will “attack” you.
      They may react vigorously to a large moving object too close (= an unknowing person) if you don’t give them the chance to get away.
      Humans stalk. But snakes may skulk.

      • BobinOz October 2, 2013, 2:50 pm |

        Skulk: “Keep out of sight, typically with a sinister or cowardly motive.”

        I’m not suggesting that any of my readers didn’t know the meaning of the word skulk, but I wanted to look it up myself to know precisely what it means and having done so I think it’s a great word to use when it comes to brown snakes.

        Thanks for answering this Geoff, my view is the same, a brown snake will normally only get aggressive if it really feels it’s being threatened, give it a chance to get away and it will. Us humans are simply too big for a brown snake to eat and as such he really has no interest in attacking us.

        If brown snake’s really did aggressively stalk humans, people would be dying every day.

        Scott, just so that you know, Geoff is my resident snake expert here, he has a book called Living with Snakes.

        Cheers, Bob

  • John Seabrook September 27, 2013, 12:35 am |

    Hello Bob, and Paula. Kookaburras are the best birds on the planet. No fear of snakes. Always in charge. Oblivious to the pestering of lesser birds. And have the most distinctive call. Raucous to some, but music to others. The Pied Butcher Bird, by the way, has a beautiful call by comparison. You might hear it at daybreak if they are in your area. And the common white backed Magpie has a call unrivalled in the bird world for its range. Always in the morning. You know you’re in Australia when you hear it.

    • BobinOz September 27, 2013, 7:13 pm |

      Hi John

      I am a convert too, I love kookaburras, probably my favourite bird. I think it’s impossible not to be happy when you hear those things laughing from the trees.

      There was one bird that got to me though, took a while to identify it, check out my post Oh No! Trouble with the Neighbours.

  • Paula September 23, 2013, 9:23 pm |

    Having recently moved to the Gold Coast from Canada this is our (or mine) biggest fear. We live with bush right behind our property. I’ve been able to befriend 7 kookaburras into the back yard which are keeping the lizards at bay. Hoping their presence will keep the snakes away too. Plus bought some of those snake repellers that vibrate the ground as well. Having 2 young children I don’t want to leave anything to chance.

    • BobinOz September 24, 2013, 6:29 pm |

      Ah, yes, they’re great for a laugh those kookaburras, aren’t they? I think they will serve you better than those snake repeller things, I’ve not heard anything to suggest that they will work. Kookaburras, on the other hand, will kill and eat a snake. Fair game when that happens, it’s nature.

      I honestly don’t think you should overly worry about snakes, but just be aware they could be around and keep everything in your garden tidy as mentioned above.

      Look on the bright side, we don’t have grizzly bears here 🙂

    • Jane September 22, 2015, 3:01 pm |

      Lizards are lovely things! At least the Sydney ones are. But interesting to know that kookas eat snakes. how did you “befriend” your seven? Would be nice to have them around.

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