Wagga’s bushy, hot landscape provides a perfect environment for snakes to call home, but it is becoming increasingly harder to track down qualified snake catchers in the region.
Reptile handler Gary Pattinson said the public does not need to worry if they are unable to get in contact with a snake catcher.
“Rural areas do, in a sense, have more issues with snakes, and while there may be less people around to know how to deal with it, the best way to fix that is to learn how to deal with it yourself,” he said.
Mr Pattinson, who works for WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation, said while it may sound daunting learning how to deal with a snake, the key is to not do anything at all.
“The most dangerous snake in the world is the one you don’t leave alone,” he said.
“If you are concerned, take kids and pets inside and wait for it to move on, because generally speaking, they won’t stick around, but it’s absolutely essential that you don’t try to catch or kill these reptiles.”
Mr Pattinson has worked with WIRES for 15 years and said snakes pose no risk if left alone.
“I’ve invested a lot of time into learning about snakes, and one thing I’ve found is that there’s no such thing as an aggressive snake – they will only strike in defense or fright, or if they’re killing for food, and snakes don’t eat people,” he said.
“Even for experienced snake catchers, we avoid relocation and interference unless it is absolutely essential, and in that instance we use proper equipment and techniques.”
Despite licensed snake catchers being hard to come by in Wagga, Mr Pattinson warned against going through unregistered alternatives.
“The industry is regulated by governing bodies, so a person may be good at what they do, but if they’re unlicensed, there’s no guarantee they won’t pose a risk to you or themselves,” he said.
Mr Pattinson said education on how to appropriately deal with snakes is the real life saver.
“In the end, education is the best tool – the more knowledgeable we are, the better we can understand these animals and reduce the stigma of fear around them,” he said.
“We generally provide information sessions here and there, and our phone lines are always open for questions and advice, but the best thing people can do to help themselves and others is to learn pressure and imobilisation first aid training.
“No body needs to die from a snake bite in Australia anymore – we have so many safety steps and options in place and the only way to use these to their fullest potential is to familiarise yourself with them,” he said.