Reptile World

Sep 16, 2011

There are times when it feels like we may be living in Australia Zoo. 

On Sunday a koala climber up a tree to watch the boys play backyard footy. 

Yesterday loud squawking alerted us to a pair of magpies swooping a huge goanna, to drive it away from their nest. They were successful, and the goanna retreated to a refuge under the fig tree. 

And soon after that, Murray the wonder

dog started barking madly. A snake had come to visit, and was by the front door. 

Calmy, it slithered through the garage and off to some bushes on the boundary of our house. It was thin, about a metre long, with a greenish sides and a brown back. 


And today, two more snakes of the same species were sunning themselves in the driveway. 

Identifying snakes is notoriously diffcult. Herpetologists often have to count the number of dorsal scales to be sure of the species (really!).That’s more initmate than I want to get to a snake. 

What snake is that? listed all the snakes in the Northern Rivers, and the one that seemed to match most closely was the Eastern Brown. That’s not good news.

Both What snake is that? and, a Brisbane based wildlife protection group, offer a service whereby you can email them a photo and they’ll have a go at naming your visitor. After making some disparaging remarks about my photography skills, snakecatchers thought our friends looked liked Yellow Faced Whip Snakes.

Reviewing the photo and description on their site, that is a closer match. 

The highly venemous Eastern Brown causes the most problems around here, with the Red Bellied Black Snake in second place. Dogs are the most common victims, and at this time of year Mike the Vet is getting busy. A local farmer died a few years ago when he was bitten on the bare feet by a brown snake when he went to feed the chooks. This is unusual – most people who are bitten are trying to kill the snake. Bites are fairly common, but envemomation is fairly rare, and nearly always can be treated successfully if appropriate first aid is used.

  • Do not try and catch the snake.
  • Ring an ambulance.
  • Do not wash the bite site (the hospital will take a swab of the venom on the skin to identify the snake)
  • Apply a ‘pressure immobilisation bandage’ – this means wrap the arm or leg up as if the person had a sprained ankle or sprained wrist. Start at the fingers and toes and go as far up the limb as you can.
  • Splint the leg/arm.
  • Keep as still as possible.

Yellow faced whip snakes sometimes bite, if you disturb them enough. Their poison hurts a lot and can cause a severe local reaction, but (generally) they are considered only mildly dangerous.

They can be found over most of Australia, but quite sensibly avoid Victoria.

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