Lack of money putting bite on George the Snake Man
IF Byron Bay snake catcher George Ellis doesn't get funding to pay his phone bill, his phone and pager service will be cut off.
And if that happens who are you going to call when you have a close encounter with a venomous snake on the North Coast?
George the Snake Man has had a frightening time recently.
His first snake bite, by a red-bellied black snake he caught outside Cheeky Monkeys nightclub last week, led to a sleepless night with uncontrollable diarrhoea in Tweed Heads hospital.
Just as scary for Mr Ellis, 58, is a lack of funds to pay his bills, which could lead to his being unable to provide the highly-specialised service for which he has become famous.
In November it will be 13 years since Mr Ellis started catching and relocating snakes on the North Coast.
Years ago he approached Byron Shire Council and the Byron Bay Chamber of Commerce for funds to support the service, without success.
Two years ago an anonymous benefactor from outside the area provided him with a good car to keep him on the road when his old vehicle could no longer be registered.
Grateful householders have occasionally made financial donations after Mr Ellis has rid their home of a snake, but generally he has to pay all his own expenses, including petrol, phone and a pager service bills.
He will not accept money from elderly people or pensioners for his services.
“After the snake bite last week, my clothes had to be cut off me so that I wasn't moved about too much in hospital, so I lost a pair of pants and a T-shirt,” Mr Ellis said.
“My wonderful partner had to drive up to Tweed Heads to come and get me, using petrol we could not afford.”
Mr Ellis told The Northern Star yesterday he urgently needed funding.
“I'm serious, and I hope people realise how dedicated I am. I get up to a dozen calls a day,” he said.
“I've caught twice as many brown snakes in the Byron Bay central business district than anywhere else. Yet there are no signs around town warning people of the danger of snakes, as there would be for sharks or crocodiles.
“As well as relocating the snakes, I can teach people about how to snake-proof their home, and what to do if they get bitten.
“It's a consultancy I can offer.”
To assist George the snake man call him on 0407 965 092.