According to the Chinese Zodiac, 2018 is the ‘Year of the Dog’, but with the extent of recent media coverage here in Australia, one could easily be forgiven for thinking that in reality it is the ‘Year of the Snake’.
For example, on February 13th The Advertiser featured video footage of a Red-bellied Black Snake that had chased down and subdued an Eastern Brown Snake near Myponga. All the action was captured by Sean Shaw, who once worked for Adelaide Snake Catchers. He spotted the Red-bellied Black Snake pursuing its smaller quarry across a road and stopped to have a look. Undeterred by the Eastern Brown Snake’s reputation as the second deadliest terrestrial snake, the black snake locked on to its prey with a vice-like bite. The brown snake’s desperate attempts to fight back were to no avail.
“After about a 20-minute tussle, the Red-bellied Black Snake was eventually able to swallow the brown snake,” Mr Shaw reported.
To view the footage, click here
Then on February 22, the media circus was alerted when Melbourne’s CBD went into ‘lock down’ after a Tiger Snake was discovered in a gutter at the corner of Spencer Street and Collins Street shortly after midday. One lane was closed to traffic, and police cordoned off a large area, which was marked with crime scene tape! After terrorising the city centre for about an hour, the snake was finally ‘bagged’ by well-known snake catcher Barry Goldsmith, who observed that it appeared to have been run over by a car.
“I’ve got to take him to the vet and see if we can get him fixed up,” Mr Goldsmith commented. “He would not have been enjoying it; he was surrounded by people when I got here. He’ll be OK though.”
Although the appearance of the snake on a busy city street remains unexplained, a council worker recalled a similar incident at Crown Casino when a snake had crawled inside a car. A police office in attendance also remembered an episode involving a Red-bellied Black Snake at Docklands a few years back.
“They hitchhike in cars,” said Barry Goldsmith. “It’s not very often they come right into the CBD.”
He was optimistic that ‘Spencer’ would make a full recovery.
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Little more than a week later, a variety of outlets picked up a story about a Far North Queensland electrician who received an unusual call out. Brydie Maro was contacted by one of her regular customers in Mossman, who told her that a large python had eaten the family cat and disappeared beneath their house! Ms Maro was ideally equipped to deal with such a situation, having previously been employed as a wildlife handler for 15 years in NSW.
“I felt pretty sorry for them because obviously they had the children there; it’s not really pretty when pythons take something out,” said Ms Maro. “I looked under and I could see it all coiled up like a big pile of coils and I am thinking, ‘Wow, that is a big snake’.”
The intrepid sparky managed to crawl under the house and remove an eight-kilogram Scrub Python with a suspiciously large bulge in its stomach.
“Unfortunately that’s the cat,” she says in a video posted to Facebook. “I am going to have to put this thing in my toolbox – I don’t think I have a bag big enough.”
Ms Maro said she often encounters snakes inside switchboards during the summer, and once removed two Green Tree Snakes from a meter board, after the meter reader had refused to go near it. However she will only relocate snakes when they pose potential problems for residents.
“If they are jammed in someone’s switchboard or stuck up under someone’s house with little kiddies around then that is not really cool. The other thing I don’t like about them in those populated areas is they are going to get run over.”
The Scrub Python was later released in a remote area of bushland.