Snakes are already poking their heads out of hibernation well ahead of their usual springtime arrival, Victorian scientists have said.
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning is warning recent warm weather has coaxed the cold-blooded creatures out into the open sooner than expected.
“People often assume that snakes won't be around at this time of year, but depending on where people live they could encounter a snake while walking the dog, cycling, bush-walking, gardening or visiting parks,” DELWP senior scientist Nick Clemann said.
Read more: Warning as snake season begins
“Snakes are more common around the urban fringe or in rural parts of Victoria, but they can also be found close to cities and towns, particularly around watercourses and parkland.
“Tiger Snakes and Lowland Copperheads are the most frequently encountered snakes near the coast, while Eastern Brown Snakes are more common in drier areas. In some areas Red-bellied Black Snakes are also common.”
Mr Clemann said the animals were “dangerously venemous” but it was rare for snakes to bite people.
He cautioned Victorians to inform themselves about how to react if they encountered a slithering reptile.
Those who live in areas where snakes are common were reminded to:
- Keep calm if a snake is spotted, trying to move you and anyone else away from the area
- Never touch or attempt to capture or hurt snakes, but instead call DELWP on 136 186 for further advice.
- Call a licensed snake catcher if the snake cannot remain where it has been found
- Have a spring clean; snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, or building materials
- Undertake first aid training, ensuring first aid kit contain several compression bandages, and if someone is bitten, call 000 immediately
Snakes are protected under law and it is illegal to capture, kill or harm them.
It is also possible to be bitten when trying to kill snakes.