Snake catcher busts the myths and tells it like it is
FOUR snake bites were reported last week in the Mackay region and although there have been no reports in Rockhampton Region or LIvingstone Shire, they are starting to make their presence known.
Capricorn Coast snake catcher, Callan Crigan said there had definitely been an increase in calls in the past week.
Nine calls doesn't come close to about 20 a day in the heat of summer, but Callan says the males will be on the move looking for a female.
"At the end of the day, the risk of being bitten is very low," he said.
"More people die from cows every year than from snakes."
We've all heard the stories of someone being chased by a snake and the latest repellent guaranteed to keep the world's most universally feared animal away, but according to the experts there's no truth in either claim.
"I've been catching snakes for ten years," said 25-year-old Callan.
"I've never been chased. A snake doesn't want a confrontation with a human.
"They can't eat us so they have no reason to use their venom except in defence.
"A snake is only dangerous if you try to catch or kill it."
And he says there is no scientific evidence behind any of the often expensive snake repellents and the best way to keep snakes at bay is to keep a clean, well-maintained, vermin-free yard.
The former chef has always had a strong passion for working with reptiles.
He says everyone is fascinated by snakes but unlike most children, his mother never taught him to fear them.
"I was naturally inquisitive so she warned me not to touch them, but to observe them for what they are," he said.
"I kept reptiles as pets and progressed my way through the level system of permits."
It's possible to become a snake catcher with no experience and a two-day course, but Callan says that's asking to be "nailed by something" within six months.
"The best thing is to find a mentor, someone already doing it," he said.
"Most snake catchers have their own snakes that need feeding and cleaning.
"Go and work with them...you shouldn't be out there on your own without two year's experience with a mentor.
"I'm always open to bringing people in; the more people who are aware the more 'non-dangerous' a snake can be, the better."
Callan has never been bitten by a venomous snake because of correct training and understanding the behavioural traits and reactions of the animals.
He has eaten snake in south-east Asia and says it tastes "pretty much like chicken" with the consistency of eel.
And to those who think the only good snake is a dead snake?
"Snakes play a really important role in our ecosystem," he said.
"Without them we'd have a massive increase in rodents."
DID YOU KNOW?
- The Keelback is the only snake capable of eating cane toads. It isn't their preferred diet as it does upset their bellies
- Taipans don't like living around people and try to stay away as much as possible
- Eastern brown snakes are the most common venomous snake in the Central Queensland region.
- Snake catchers have removed eastern browns from second story houses. It's not true that they can't climb.
- Most venomous snakes are terrestrial, meaning they hunt and live on the ground but it doesn't mean they can't and won't climb in search of food and water.
- Baby snakes are just as dangerous as older ones
- Female snakes have no mothering instincts at all so their young need to be able to hunt and defend themselves from birth