Snake safety in Australia. How to protect dogs and kids from snakes
Updated: Aug 7, 2021
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The weather is warming up nicely and we are starting to see snakes on the move again. Mind you snakes can be seen all year round in Australia, but that is the subject for another day. Many people think there is an influx of snakes when the weather starts to warm, but this isn’t the case, they just haven’t been as visible for a while. Snakes undergo a reduced activity period from April to August. This is spent either brumating or in hibernation. Brumation is the state achieved when animals and reptiles are able to move on warmer winter days. Hibernation is the state of a deep sleep and there is no movement at all- and essentially excluding a few species that occur in the alpine regions does not apply to our native snakes. Fresh out of this reduced activity period they look for two things – food and a mate to breed with.
In this blog we will answer some of the most commonly asked questions we're asked regarding dogs, children and snakes.
Can I snake proof my yard?
While it is almost impossible to totally snake proof your property there are some things you can do to minimise the amount of snakes that you may potentially encounter in your yard and house. Generally speaking and dependant on location, most venomous snakes pass through – they generally won’t set up residence at your place. If there is no constant food source and safe place to pass the day they will tend to move on a lot quicker. Pythons generally cause no threat to humans, they will clear your rodents out for you and then move on. By keeping a tidy yard and house you reduce the shelter sites, the attractiveness to prey and therefore minimising the snake encounters.
Carpet python, Morelia spilota on the hunt for a feed in a yard in the middle of suburbia in Brisbane.
How do I protect my dogs and kids from snakes?
Keep yards mowed as short as possible. Long grass provides somewhere for not only snakes but the animals and amphibians they prey upon somewhere to hide. If it is not possible to keep grass as short as possible, wear closed in shoes and long pants. Train your dogs to stay beside you in these areas and don't let kids play in them, especially unsupervised. Keep your eye out for snakes while in this environment, seeing them before they are aware of you gives you time to calmly walk away.
Don’t leave rubbish lying around. If it doesn’t fit in the bin, take it to the tip. Like long grass, rubbish will provide protection for both snakes and rodents alike. Woodpiles, leaf-litter, tin and clutter in the yard will be an enticing shelter for both snakes and rodents.
Make sure any retaining walls are complete – holes in the walls are perfect hides for snakes. Also check for any holes around your house and garage.
Sheds and garages should be tidy. Most of the time they are not well sealed and cluttered. If they are organised it is easier to see if you have a visitor, for example pythons are often found in urban environments.
A high fence is not a guarantee that you will not have visitors. There is an old wives tale that venomous snakes don’t climb, only pythons do. Not true. While venomous snakes are often found on the ground many species will climb trees or fences while hunting.
Always wear closed in shoes, especially at night. Make sure kids also wear closed in shoes while in the yard. Whilst thongs are comfortable to wear in summer they provide no protection should they be bitten. Don’t leave shoes outside overnight. If you do, always check they are empty before putting feet in!
If out at night always use a torch.
Don’t put your hands where you cannot see them. Snakes don’t go out of their way to bite people, but when startled it is their mode of defence.
If you have pets that live outside, make sure their feeding area is always clean and preferably away from the house. Food attracts rodents. Rodents attract snakes. Use mouse or snake wire on enclosures to prevent unwanted visitor