Warning as snakes return to residential areas

Edward ScownGeraldton Guardian
Michelle Jones has been catching and relocating animals in the Mid-West for 20 years
Camera IconMichelle Jones has been catching and relocating animals in the Mid-West for 20 years Credit: Picture: Edward Scown

A wildlife expert is urging caution as snakes, including several venomous varieties native to the region, and other reptiles become common sights as the weather warms up.

Local wildlife guru Michelle Jones has been rescuing and relocating animals of all varieties for the past 20 years. This year she’s as busy as ever. On one Sunday, she got six calls before 11am.

“We have to learn to be around (reptiles) and have a healthy respect for them,” she said.

It’s currently what she calls “trauma season”, where young hatchlings wander away from nests and are often found by the side of the road.

Ms Jones said people often called for help for birds that looked young and in trouble but were just getting their wings.

“There’s a difference between nestlings and fledglings. Fledglings are like birds with their L plates ... they need to be left alone.”

The biggest danger comes when people try to help or catch animals they can’t identify. Ms Jones’ advice is to simply not interact with them. As cute as small birds are, feeding them the wrong food can be fatal.

Household pets are another concern. Dogs are likely to find a snake or a lizard before their owners do, and in a fight with a venomous snake it’s common that both will die. Short of sealing off backyards completely, the best prevention is to remove places where a reptile will feel safe. A short, open lawn will leave a lizard feeling very vulnerable.

Removing rocks, construction materials or any other clutter will make it harder for them to run off and hide from a snake catcher too, saving property owners a bit of time and money.

People who encounter an injured animal can call Wildcare on 9474 9055. Ms Jones said the best course of action was to find a local snake catcher’s number.

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