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Cyclone Joyce stirs up snake activity in WA's north as king brown strikes at dog

By Cecile O'Connor, Wednesday January 17, 2018 - 17:42 EDT
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A green tree snake caught by Broome snake catcher Chris Mitchell. January, 2018. - ABC licensed

A cyclone which lashed northern Western Australia has stirred up snake activity in people's backyards, with a pet dog having a narrow miss with a deadly king brown on a family's veranda.

Broome snake catcher Chris Mitchell has removed five snakes from Broome backyards in the past four days, including the king brown on Tuesday night.

Mr Mitchell, who operates a voluntary wildlife rescue service, said while some of the snakes are harmless, one is similar to the Eastern Brown snake .

The 24-year-old man was bitten on the finger when he tried to protect his dog.

"We have the equivalent over here called a Western Brown snake or Gwardar," Mr Mitchell said.

"It's highly venomous, you don't want to get bitten by it."

Broome education assistant Kate Haley said they called Mr Mitchell in when the king brown reared up and struck at the family dog outside their Roebuck Estate home.

She said the snake was near the dog's water bowl.

"Luckily it didn't connect," Mrs Haley said.

Mr Mitchell said the snakes are chasing frogs, which are attracted to water features and dog water bowls.

"At this time of year all our snakes are very active," he said.

"It's warmed up, there are lots of frogs around."

Another species attracted to frogs is the green tree snake which climbs and "floats" through the tree canopy looking for frogs and small birds.

Swimming snake surprises picnickers

In another close encounter, a swimming snake alarmed sightseers on the flooded Roebuck Plains south of Broome last weekend.

Broome woman Quincy Gore-Birch was filming the snake as it swam near the flooded highway when it climbed on to her vehicle's running board, a side step commonly found on large four-wheel-drives.

She said the snake, which she thought was a King Brown, eventually swam away.

Mr Mitchell said people should leave snakes alone and call a licenced handler if they find one near their house.

If they are bitten, prompt first aid is crucial.

"Do the correct medical procedure which is the pressure immobilisation bandage and get to hospital," he said.

"Don't kill the snake, just get the bandage on and get to hospital.

"Nobody should die from snake bite in Australia if they use the correct technique."


© ABC 2018

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