Keep calm and don’t fall for snake hiss-teria: Mid West handler Rob Newman hits out at reptile killers

Michael RobertsGeraldton Guardian
A dugite tackles an Emu Export can.
Camera IconA dugite tackles an Emu Export can. Credit: Supplied

Whether it’s Indiana Jones, Harry Potter or Tarzan, snakes get a pretty bad rap in popular culture.

A lot of people don’t like snakes, and plenty are scared at the sight of a slithering reptile — but that’s no reason to kill one, according to a Mid West snake handler.

Snake catcher Rob Newman said he had recently seen several posts on social media of people bragging about their kills.

He said one picture showed a man holding nine dead snakes, all with their heads cut off.

Snake handler Rob Newman with the non-venomous Children’s python.
Camera IconSnake handler Rob Newman with the non-venomous Children’s python. Credit: Supplied

Mr Newman strongly suspects they had no reason to destroy the native fauna as most WA snakes shied away from confrontation.

“When left alone, snakes pose little to no danger to anybody,” he said.

“Snakes usually prefer to retreat when pressured or discovered in the yard. They will only become defensive when threatened or cornered.

“Most snake bites occur when we are trying to attack, capture or kill the snake.”

Mr Newman said many people did not realise snakes were protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act. There are severe penalties for taking a snake from the wild without a licence.

It is only legal to kill a snake in WA if it poses an immediate threat to people, livestock or domesticated animals.

“If you’re backed into a corner and the snake is going for you, then you basically have no choice,” Mr Newman said.

“But if a snake is on or moving through your property, you have no right to kill that snake. It is quite easy to get pets and children inside, but most people go with what Grandad taught them and go for the spade first.”

Mr Newman said a lack of education gave the reptiles a bad name and he was keen to visit schools to build awareness.

“There are plenty of myths about snakes,” he said.

“I can understand people being scared of snakes but they are such an important part of our ecological balance.

“I don’t encourage anyone to move on a snake if they don’t have experience and don’t know what that snake is.

“A lot of people kill snakes that aren’t even venomous.”

A tiger snake in captivity.
Camera IconA tiger snake in captivity. Credit: John Mokrzycki/WA News

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