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Sydney snakes slither into backyards due to warm weather, urban development

Amanda Hoh, Thursday September 7, 2017 - 16:39 EST
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Trevor Jones says the eastern brown snake is the first he's seen at his home. - ABC

When Trevor Jones returned to his Sydney home after a 14-hour flight from Canada last week, all he and his wife wanted to do was drop their bags and head to bed.

But what awaited them at their front door in Harrington Park though was a less-than-friendly welcome.

"We just got over telling the Canadians how much of a lovely place Australia is; we've got crocs, spiders that will kill you," Mr Jones joked.

"We got home, went out the front and there was an eastern brown snake."

The eastern brown is the second most venomous snake in the world.

Wildlife rescue organisation WIRES referred Mr Jones to Campbelltown snake catcher Cory Kerewaro who arrived within 15 minutes.

In that time the snake had slithered into a crevice in a retaining wall out of the sun.

"He tried putting a hose down behind the wall but that didn't work," Mr Jones said.

"He asked how much did I want it gone. I said: 'Well, a lot.' We demolished about three-quarters of the retaining wall.

"My wife now looks twice every time she goes out the door."

Warm winter keep snakes about

Sydney's warmer-than-usual winter has seen more snake sightings in urban areas.

Mr Kerewaro said last year he caught about three snakes over the whole season.

This winter his jobs more than doubled and he was called to do a rescue at least once a week.



The start of spring, which is usually when snakes start coming out, has also kept him busy.

"There's probably been about a 25 per cent rise than in previous years," Mr Kerewaro said.

"The snakes are waking up, looking for food and to find a mate.

"They're getting pushed into yards, they're just trying to find shelter."

The most common snakes around the Sydney basin are the venomous red-belly black snake and eastern brown, while in cooler climates such as towards the Blue Mountains, Ku Ring Gai and Wollongong, copperhead and tiger snakes and diamond pythons are often seen.

Urban development destroying habitat



Mr Kerewaro said urban development in greater western Sydney, particularly around Oran Park and Catherine Field, had also caused an increase in sightings.

"The more they destroy the habitat, the more the snakes are getting disturbed and they're looking for somewhere to go," he said.

Snake catcher Sean Cade told that he had been called out about 20 times a week in the past few months.

He said the increased sightings were a result of snakes returning to the sites of their original bushland homes which had been replaced by apartment blocks and other buildings.

"That's when a lot of people come in contact with snakes," Mr Cade said.

Snakes are more likely to rest along the side of a wall or fence as they try and hide from prey, and may even crawl into your house in search of shade.

Mr Kerewaro said he caught a snake this week that had hidden itself inside a car motor.



What to do if you find a snake
Don't approach a snake as they can all bite — a diamond python has 150 teeth.
Stay calm and back away. Don't make any sudden movements.
Keep an eye on the snake.
Keep kids and pets away.
Call a professional snake catcher.

Mr Cade's top tip is to treat any snake that you can't identify as venomous.

Mr Kerewaro added that if you find a snake in the house, try and close the door and block any gaps or entrances with a towel to stop it escaping.

"If you try and interact with it yourself or grab a shovel, they're the guys who are getting bitten, and if they don't know what kind of snake it is, it can be dangerous."

The it recommends for snake removal.


- ABC

© ABC 2017

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