“A good snake is a dead snake” is a popular adage, especially during hot Australian summers when the reptiles are on the move — but it’s an expression Albany snake handler Bryan Ling hates to hear.
Mr Ling wants people to call for help to relocate the wild animals before they reach for the sharp end of a shovel.
The volunteer snake handler, who is a wool presser in a shearing team, manages Albany’s Snake and Reptile Capture service in his spare time.
Christmas and New Year is his busiest time with frequent calls for help from terrified residents, as snakes emerge form hibernation to look for food in backyards, camp sites and sometimes in houses.
“I get called out mainly for tigers and dugites, mainly tiger snakes around Albany where it’s very swampy,” he said.
“Tigers are attracted to chook yards, rabbit runs and bird aviaries where they know rats and mice can be caught.
“I generally get a lot of calls because there’s a tiger [snake] in a chook pen.”
This week Bryan was called by Sarah Pegden, who spotted a large black snake making its way through her garden at Little Grove near Albany.
The two-metre-long reptile turned out to be a south-west carpet python — not venomous but capable of delivering a painful bite.
Mr Ling plucked it from a tree it had curled up in and took it out to bushland where he released it.
The dedicated conservationist has a simple message.
“My message for anyone who finds a snake is to stay away from it, not to kill it, make plenty of noise. Snakes are scared of people,” he said.
“They will move away from any noise or anything bigger unless they are threatened themselves.
“Unfortunately people still generally think that a dead snake is a good snake, but as time goes by people are lightening up on that, and [they] are getting the view that snakes are an important part of our ecosystem.”
Tips to deter snakes
Mr Ling advised people to make their homes less attractive to snakes looking for food and shelter.
“If people are in an area where they are getting snakes into their yard, then try and keep water bowls and bushes to the outskirts of their property, keep all the gardens clean and clear of scrub,” he said.
“If you’ve got a lot of snakes around your area generally, on the outskirts of your property keep somewhere for them to hide, for them to live.
“We are building more into their area and we can’t expect them not to be there, we are in their area and we have to learn what to do in an incident.”
But if one does come into your area he has some simple guidelines.
“Keep an eye on it. If you feel threatened by it and you think it’s going to hang around, call an expert,” Mr Ling said.
“Try and keep it contained, don’t scare it, don’t try and bash it don’t do anything with it. Most snakes will move on, looking for a feed.
“If they get into the house just shut the door, put a towel under the door, make sure they can’t get out of any windows, keep it contained in that room and call a snake expert to come and relocate.”
Mr Ling’s passion for snakes is also a rewarding one.
“It makes my day to be able to relocate a reptile and to help somebody be safe, as well as the reptile be safe,” he said.