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.
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…
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…
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 (not shown on map), whilst camping, large carpet snake, see my post about Bad Things at Camping for the full story and pictures.
- Byron Bay, (not shown on map) 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.
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.
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.
Snake sighting updates
Moreton Island, February 2012
Here’s one I forgot to mention in the above list, it’s from 2012, on Moreton Island.
As we were walking towards the only bar on the island for a beer, we passed what was almost certainly a carpet python slithering in the grass. Many people had stopped to take a look, but the snake just kept on slithering in the opposite direction of the humans until he made his way up the nearest tree.
For more, watch the video on my post The Wildlife on Moreton Island
My back garden, September 2014
I noticed, as I was walking in my back garden, a snake’s tail disappear behind my Bug Eater. So I got my camera…
Probably another harmless green tree snake, but there was an outside chance it could have been something more dangerous. More on Ticks and Snakes in Australia: Welcome to Summer
Byron Bay hinterland January 2017
Six of us were walking through the area at the time, but it was the youngest of our group Jasmine, who would have been nine at the time, who pointed this out to us. Almost certainly a rather venomous eastern brown snake sunning himself against a rock…
We looked at him, he looked at us, we took photographs, he didn’t, and we walked on.
Western Suburbs, Brisbane, September 2018
Spotted five minutes from my home, a carpet python crossing the road. No photograph for this one but you can read more about it, and learn an essential skill, by reading Snake Bite First Aid in Australia: What You Need to Know in an Emergency