News

Snake attack prompts reminder to keep pets safe

By Ed McLeish

A Shepparton woman’s dog has been attacked by a tiger snake, prompting experts to give tips on what households should do to avoid the legless reptiles.

Resident Tracey Duncanson said her Jack Russell, Flossy, was still at the vet, but would hopefully be home by Friday.

“We went and saw her yesterday and she’s very weak and on drips; she’s taking it one day at a time,” she said.

Mrs Duncanson said she was making a cup of tea when her son noticed Flossy, and her husky, Gypsy, were making noise in the backyard.

“Flossy was crying and yelping,” she said.

“The snake wrapped around her and started attacking her.”

Mrs Duncanson said her dogs encountered the snake close to a backyard tap by their outdoor deck.

It was not Flossy’s first brush with a snake; according to Mrs Duncanson, it was the Jack Russell’s fourth snake bite.

“If the kids had been outside, they could’ve been bitten,” she said.

Goulburn Valley snake catcher Tania Corby said the best thing for households to do was install snake- and mouse-proof meshing.

“The only way to catch snakes is by creating a literal barrier, it’ll literally stop snakes from coming into your yard,” she said.

“The meshing is perfectly legal trapping; it won’t even let a juvenile snake through.”

The meshing is available from any fencing store.

“I didn’t know it existed but would be interested in something to prevent them (snakes) from coming into the yard,” Mrs Duncanson said.

“You don’t really hear much about it.”

Ms Corby said people needed to be more reactive to the drought bringing snakes into homes.

“I find putting water on the outside of your property and fence line will get snakes to come there instead of the inside of your property,” she said.

“Snakes are coming in for food, water and shelter.”

Last Christmas Eve, Ms Corby survived a snake bite that ended in an emergency flight to St Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne; it was the most excruciating pain she had known.

She still suffers movement problems in her thumb, where she was bitten.

Ms Corby said residents should keep lawns short and have as much visualisation of the garden as possible.

Shepparton snake catcher Craig Bergman said to avoid snakes unexpectedly popping up in backyards, people needed to remove any potential hiding spots.

“If there’s piles of firewood, get it off the ground so they don’t crawl under,” he said.

“I advise people to just keep their eyes open.”

Mr Bergman said his biggest concern was the community's lack of knowledge about specific snakes.

“When you tell people about the eastern brown, they ask how dangerous it is — it’s number two [most venomous snake] in the world.”

When it comes to getting bitten, Mr Bergman said the best thing to do was keep completely still and use snake bite-specific bandages.

“They have indicators to show how tight you can wrap them, and you’re supposed to wrap the entire limb,” he said.

“Call an ambulance and don’t try to drive to the hospital, as you’ll be surprised at how quickly the venom can travel when you’re moving.”

Mr Bergman said people would not find snakes out on hotter days.

“There’s a five-second rule, if you put the back of your hand on concrete outside and can’t keep it there for five seconds, it’s likely a snake won’t come near you,” he said.

“In the warmer weather, the snakes are more active at night, as they hunt and gather water then.”

Mr Bergman said residents should be keeping an eye out for snakes until mid-autumn.

Ms Corby and Mr Bergman can be phoned on 0409 575 164 and 0428 300 210 respectively.

For snake-avoidance training for dogs, visit snakeavoidance.com.au

More stories on snakes and pets:

An expert shares their top tips for keeping your furry feline safe

My Pet: Mieko the mini-loop bunny