As the weather warms up, staff at Australia Zoo are reminding residents of the presence of snakes and how to live with them. Photo: Ben Beaden
As the weather warms up, staff at Australia Zoo are reminding residents of the presence of snakes and how to live with them. Photo: Ben Beaden

Why one of our most-feared animals is vital

IF SWEATY armpits and chafe aren't enough to contend with on the Coast this summer, then the appearance of a snake at the back door just about does it.

But instead of fearing them, Australia Zoo's head of reptiles, Nick Kuyper, wants residents and visitors to recognise the incredible job they do in maintaining our eco-systems by keeping rodent numbers down.

"Contradictory to the opinion of many, snakes aren't out to get us," he said.

"They don't see humans as a food source and therefore don't want anything to do with us."

Instead, he said statistics showed most people who had been bitten by snakes were trying to confront or attack them.

 

Snakes are vital to our ecosystem and are actually, timid creatures. Photo: Ben Beaden.
Snakes are vital to our ecosystem and are actually, timid creatures. Photo: Ben Beaden.

"It's very important that if you encounter a snake you keep your distance and do not engage with it," he said.

"Snakes are predominantly timid creatures and do not like confrontation, so if left alone they will leave you alone.

"Snakes have found themselves living in locations that, prior to their development, were vast grasslands and forests, but now they are having to survive in urban areas."

Mr Kuyper said there were a few simple things people could do to minimise the presence of snakes, including keeping grassed areas cut low and minimising clutter in the yard.

"It is also really important that you use wildlife-friendly netting over fruit trees as unsuspecting native wildlife, including snakes, can easily get caught in the netting.

"To be wildlife-friendly, netting should have a mesh size of less than 5mm," he said.

It is also recommended that appropriate clothing and footwear be worn when bush walking in snake habitat.

"Here at Australia Zoo we are continuing Steve's dream, his vision was a world where people and wildlife live harmoniously alongside each other."


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