Brown snake alert as catcher averages five calls a day
THE busiest brown snake season in a decade continues for George Ellis the Byron Shire snake catcher, who is averaging four to five callouts a day.
George, who on November 7 marked 15 years of his volunteer snake removal service, is blaming a lot of the callouts on the disturbance to the landscape being created by the Tintenbar to Ewingsdale highway upgrade.
His recent brown snake encounters have included a Byron Bay caravan park toilet block, a golf club, and a Broken Head vegetable garden where a man who wasn't wearing his glasses nearly mistook the deadly creature for a cucumber.
The filming of an Australian drama at Coraki was interrupted when a 2.5m brown snake slithered on set.
It had disappeared before George arrived which is a shame as it would have beaten his previous brown snake record of 2.4m.
A Main Arm woman was awoken by another deadly variety - a 75cm rough scale or Clarence River snake - near her face, a reptile that even George dislikes.
"It's no where near as toxic as a brown snake... but the venom goes through your system like lightning," he says.
But snakes don't have to be deadly to cause trauma.
George removed a 1.95m carpet snake from a house in Myocum after it ate the family cat.
A Lennox Head mum was horrified to discover a carpet snake inside her baby's cot.
"It got inside and curled up under her baby because it was nice and warm," says George.
George expects the pace to continue over the Christmas period with the heat as well as outdoor barbeques and the food scraps they create, creating ideal conditions for brown snakes.
George's tips on how to snake-proof your home
Keep screen doors closed. Seal up holes and cracks in your walls and roof. If you can poke a pen through a hole, a snake can also get through. Doors should be set up to close automatically.
Get rid of cat flaps and holes in screens should be patched up.
Don't leave food for humans or animals lying around as it can attract rats and therefore snakes which like to eat them.
If you see a snake, don't corner them. Remember they don't like you either and it will often leave if given the opportunity. They don't want to eat us or fight with us as we're too big.
Wear protective clothing in long grass or outside in the bush at night and take a torch.
If you've called George, without comprising your safety try and isolate the area where the snake is so he knows where to find it.