Tuesday, March 15, 2016


Australia has a reputation that all our wildlife is out to kill us and the population survives purely due to good luck.
I am a little bit bemused about this especially when visiting the USA and being confronted with this perception.
We don't have animals which are a danger. No bears, no mountain lions, no bison, no moose, no wolves.
We have crocodiles, they have alligators.
We have nasty spiders (Funnel Web), so do they (Recluse).
We both have the same kinds of sharks (Great White).
We have kangaroos on the roads, they have deer.
They have nasty snakes, so do we.
But wait a minute, when it comes to snakes we do take the prize.
There are around 140 species of snakes in the country. Huffington Post listed the twenty five most dangerous in the world. Australia accounted for twenty one of them
Here is the list in descending order of venom toxicity  (* = non Australian)
Inland taipan
Eastern brown snake
Coastal taipan
Eastern states tiger snake
Reevsby inland tiger snake
Beaked sea snake
Western Australian tiger snake
Chappell Island tiger snake
Death adder
Gwardar or western brown snake
Australian copperhead
Indian cobra*
Black mamba*
Dugite or spotted brown snake
Papuan black snake
Yellow-banded snake
Rough scaled snake
King cobra*
Blue-bellied black snake
Collett’s snake
King brown or mulga snake
Red-bellied black snake
Small-eyed snake
Spotted snake
Eastern diamond-back rattlesnake*

Now, many of these are in specific and remote areas and others have a larger distribution range.
The one we deal with here is the red bellied black snake. They are very common in the south east coastal part of the country and grow up to 2m in length.
The snake primarily preys on frogs, reptiles and small mammals.  They also eat other snakes, including those of their own species.
They are normally timid and try to escape when approached. They only become aggressive when cornered or threatened. They have a habit of thinking they can't be seen in longer grass when escaping and stop and just lie there. This is when you can step on them which provokes a reaction. This is especially common in spring when they are waking up from hibernation and are a bit slow.
Our main 'defence' is keeping the grass short around the house and surrounding areas. We have established a 200m buffer zone. Inside that zone they are "relocated". Anywhere else we just walk around them or wait for them to move on.
I occasionally come across them in the vineyard blocks mainly when they have been entangled in the netting.
When this happens they are humanely dispatched.

When working in the paddocks we normally wear boots and jeans as a precaution. No putting hands down holes or sitting on logs before a thorough check.
But don't think the farm is alive with these creatures. We probably see a dozen a season in various locations and we have learnt to live with them.
And the local hospital has a good supply of anti venom.

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