Worst snake season for a decade
IT'S the worst brown snake season in more than a decade, according to snake handler George Ellis who, just two months into spring has already had to remove dozens of them from across Byron Shire.
"I call itthe plague. The excreta has hit the fan where brown snakes are concerned," says George, who has been offering a free snake removal service in the area for nearly 15 years.
And some of the stories he has to tell are blood-chilling.
On Sunday night he said he attended an Ocean Shores home where a man on the toilet felt moisture between his legs, looked down and found a snake licking him.
George said it was a 1.45m brown snake and the resident in his 40s was deeply shaken.
All he could say was, 'bloody hell, bloody hell'
"I put my arm around him and consoled him.
"He settled down, but I think he'll be more careful in the future."
Last month he was called in to remove a brown snake from a woman's handbag at Byron Bay Surf Club.
On a Myocum veranda George had a brown snake by the tail when another slithered up behind him.
He had to grab the second snake and fling it away while still keeping hold of the first.
He rushed a patient to Lismore Hospital's emergency department in late September when a brown snake bit the man on the leg. The victim recovered.
Other callouts have included a couple of schools and a pre-school where a brown snake was basking in the sun and snapping at insects.
George said dry weather had ensured a bumper breeding season for rats and mice - the brown snake's favourite dish.
I have not had this kind of call out rate in more than a decade.
But rain was not going to solve the problem entirely either.
"As soon as there's a bit of decent rain the rats will head indoors and the snakes will follow," he said.
"A single drop of brown snake venom is enough to kill four grown adults."
George said we could expect to see an even bigger snake problem because of their displacement by the 17km upgrade of the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale stretch of the Pacific Hwy.
He said downtown Byron Bay, including its main street - Jonson St - remained the snake hotspot of the region.