As the weather continues to warm up, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is urging animal owners to take precautions to help minimise the risk of snake bites and seek immediate veterinary advice if they suspect their animal has has been bitten by a snake.
This advice comes hot on the heals of Topi Topi resident, Kristy Gray’s front row seat in an athletic display by a couple of red bellied black snakes wrestling on her lawn.
Kristy shared both the images and video of the lively duo – possibly vying for the attention of a female snake.
"Since the beginning of September we have seen several lone snakes,” Kristy told the Great Lakes Advocate.
“In less than a week we have seen two pairs out in the open, a worrying occurrence no doubt due to the dry hot weather,” she said.
Great Lakes snake expert John Smith said that contrary to the look of the pictures, the snakes weren’t mating.
“They don’t intertwine or stand up like they are in the pictures when they are mating, they just lay next to each other with their tails overlapping,” John said.
“These two are most likely sparring, or fighting for the attention of a female,” he said.
“They don’t often bite each other, they just intertwine and carry on for a while until one gives up and goes away.”
Kristy was excited to have the opportunity to witness something like this, but understandably, she had her reservations.
“It was a bit scary to stand so near the snakes. But I couldn't resist taking a chance to photograph them.”
This time of year, marks the beginning of a rise in snake bites in animals as the warmer weather and dryer conditions put an end to their winter hibernation.
AVA president, Dr Paula Parker, said that snakes tend to be their most active at the end of the day.
“Snake bites often occur in the late afternoon or early evening, however it’s important for people to be vigilant throughout the day,” she said.
Dr Parker said that snakes found in backyards are usually looking for mice or rats to eat.
“Rats and mice can often be found in untidy sheds, or where’s there’s a good supply of wood piles and rubbish. So, it’s a good idea to maintain a tidy garden and shed, ensuring that wood piles are neatly stacked and discarding lawn clippings and mulch rather than keeping it in a pile.
“Outside, keep a close eye out for snakes in bushy areas or near water. It’s best to try and keep horses, cattle and sheep away from bushy areas. Dog owners should try and avoid these areas when walking their pets at the end of the day and preferably keep them on the lead.
“If you keep your rabbits and guinea pigs in a hutch outside, then you will need to make sure you can keep snakes out of the hutch. Identify and cover all openings which are larger than one centimetre as some snakes have the ability to squeeze through small openings,” she said.
The AVA says it’s important for animal owners to be aware of the signs of a snake bite as owners may not actually see their animal being bitten. Signs of snake bite can vary depending on the snake and the location in Australia. Common signs of a snake bite include:
Sudden weakness followed by collapse
Unexplained bleeding or swelling
Reluctance or inability to walk
Bites from some snakes will cause an animal to collapse, and then seem to recover. This can give false confidence that the animal is okay, but what is really happening is the snake toxins are spreading through the system and wreaking havoc. Within a few hours, other signs start to develop.
“If you think your animal has been bitten, keep your pet calm and contact your vet immediately. The chances of recovery are much greater if treatment is delivered early,” Dr Parker said.