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Seen a snake ?


Or ring Steve - 


Steve Smartt  :  0417 930 587

Please note that Steve does charge out a call out fee
Snakes around the Lake : by Paul Iddiols

FORGET THE MOVIE SNAKES ON A PLANE because these reptiles are most certainly part of our community and to ignore them in the hope that they’ll just go away isn't the best approach to have.  I will provide you with a telephone number that you should add to your contacts list rather than that of the A&E at Fiona Stanley Hospital, although that is an important one.

Living close the lake as our family do, we have seen a number dugites and tiger snakes in the road and in both our front and back gardens each year and if they are in and around our home then there is no reason to think that they are not close to your home as well.

 




Remember that snakes are protected in Western Australia and if you find a snake in and around your property and you live in Cockburn, Melville or Fremantle are you are truly worried about it, then you can call the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055 or reach Steve Smartt directly on his mobile phone at 0417 930 587.

Steve considers his occupation to be a labour of love but is worried about the increasing sprawl of estates in and around our city and once caught his duty is to relocate them, which means to us, to be released in the Beeliar Wetlands, which includes Bibra Lake.


As with all vocations there is almost a certainty that something can go wrong and a little over 10 years ago Steve was bitten by a death adder and was rushed to hospital with his arm turning black. He made a full recovery but it shows us all that it can happen to us if it can happen to him. The picture below from www.perthnow.com.au shows Steve with a Dugite at his Spearwood home.

 
 

Steve has been a snake catcher for almost 20 years and is worried by people’s lack of knowledge and understanding in these matters. 

With large amounts of bush being destroyed to make way for housing, snakes are making their way into residential areas in search of food so we should do more learn about the ecosystem sharing this land with us rather that killing them.



To wrap up this article; here is a little information about three more commonly sighted snakes in the Bibra Lake area.  Dugites, Tiger Snakes and Death Adders are all found in the Beeliar Wetlands and identifying the reptile that bit you will assist the hospital in any treatment and after care.  There is a great source of information at a centre that many people simply drive past in Hope Road - The Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre.  They do so much for the wonderful ecosystem that we hold so dear.


Information on the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre can be found here and it is well worth a visit to let you know about all the creatures and fawner that are to be found in Bibra Lake. 
   
From Wetlands Officer Denise Crosbie to Rex Sallaur, Norm Godfrey, Felicity McGeorge & Janene Watts; the team are always on hand to talk about the area in which we live. 

There is also a Friends of the Cockburn Wetlands Education Centre and you can see their involvement by clicking here



Dugites vary in colour from brown, grey or olive on top with a yellowish body underneath and can grow to around 2 metres, whilst the young have black heads. 


Before settlement their diet consisted of lizards and other snakes but since our arrival they have adapted to rats, mice. In the wild you will find them beneath rocks or small holes but in your property they can just as easily be found under your decking or washing machine or fridge. 


They may be very shy and will often slither away, as was a recent case for me but please be aware that if cornered they WILL defend themselves.






Tiger Snakes are normally found close to water and primarily survive on a diet of frogs, lizards and small mammals and although normally only 1.2m they can grow to a similar size as the dugite above. 

As with most snakes their colour can vary but as a rule they are generally dark-brown or black with a yellow, orange of cream bands.

The picture above is courtesy of the West Australian Reptile Park and is well worth a visit to educate your family. Their centre is at 92 Henley Street, Henley Brook and you will find details on their website here and you can get an up close view of these reptiles and then afterwards you have a variety of other facilities on the doorstep.


Finally, Death Adders, which are one of the most venomous snakes in Australia, hence their name, but fortunately they are not in large numbers in our locality so it is unlikely that you will encounter one.. 


That said; we should always be aware that we do SHARE this wonderful wetland with these reptiles and therefore Bibra Lake is their home as well as ours. I’m sure we all moved here because the lakes offer such tranquil space away from the cares of normal day to day life.




I should like to advise that Steve does charge a call-out fee to assist you with any snake catching requirements however he states that it is based on what the caller can afford, so please do not hesitate because you are short of money or unable to find a ATM.

When out and about, if you see a snake it is easier to walk away from it and let the threat subside. I recently watched a dugite shedding its skin and did nothing to threaten it and as Steve has told me, the snake went merrily on its way afterwards, leaving the old skin on the front lawn. I was apprehensive being so close but instead of rushing for a spade I simply picked up my tablet and took photos. 







If you find one within your home it is wise to try and close off that room or area and call Steve or the Wildcare Helpline. 

It is better to be careful than live to regret a decision as happened in 2010 when a person was bitten in his own home and instead of seeking help he tried to catch the young Tiger Snake and by doing so, he became the first person to die from a snakebite in Western Australia since 1998.

The Wildcare Helpline mentioned earlier is a 24 hour-a-day, seven-day-a-week telephone referral service and is operated by volunteers on behalf of the Department of Parks & Wildlife, and is based at the department’s Kensington headquarters. You can check out their website here  but please remember that the helpline provides a service for the public who find sick, injured or orphaned native wildlife and who are seeking advice on where to find care for the animal concerned. 

If you are seeking advice or assistance on domestic animals then you will need to call the RSPCA on (08) 9209 9300.
That statistic that only 1 person has died in Western Australia in17 years should put your mind at ease as if bitten then by calling 000 or going straight to A&E at Fiona Stanley hospital it is unlikely to be fatal.  It was not the snakebite that killed that gentleman but the wasted time seeking assistance. 




The photograph opposite taken by local Steve Paxton shows the reason why I chose Bibra Lake but like the neighbours who live next door to you we must also live in harmony with the nature around us.

 

I would like to advise that there are other more commercial options available to you for retrieving a snake from your property in Perth but with Steve living very close to our community I felt that I should recognize him for everything that his does for the residents of Bibra Lake and surrounding areas.


Paul Iddiols


Resident since 2006