A MORNINGTON Peninsula snake catcher is urging people to be cautious of snakes coming out of hibernation, but to resist the urge to kill the legally protected reptiles.
Mornington-based, registered snake catcher Barry Goldsmith receives about 20 to 30 calls about snake sightings every week, mainly from around the peninsula but also as far as Tullamarine, and said snakes were important indicators of a healthy environment and were usually just trying to hide.
“Snakes will be more obvious now the weather is warming up, but the better thing to do rather than try to hurt or kill it, is to let it escape, stay away from it and keep yards tidy and grass mown,” he said.
“Despite what some people think, snakes do not want to attack and will be more frightened of you that you are of them.
“They are part of the ecosystems, and they eat rats and mice.”
Mr Goldsmith said even tiger snakes, often thought of as aggressive, would rather get away than bite.
But Rosebud resident Kevin Berkefeld, whose neighbour killed a tiger snake in his backyard last week, said he was fearful that the snake could bite his grandchildren, who visit regularly.
“We both have clean, tidy backyards but to see the snake in the middle of the day heading cross the lawn toward the back steps was quite scary,” he said.
“My neighbour has a farming background, so instincts kicked in.”
Mr Goldsmith said snakes did not die instantly when decapitated, and could suffer extended agony before death.
“It’s in pain and scared, and that’s the worst thing you can do, as there are plenty of cases of people being bitten by the body-less head when trying to put it in the bin.”
“I would advise take precautions, but don’t kill snakes, it’s cruel and unnecessary.”
Call the Department of Sustainability and Environment on 136186 for a list of snake controllers.