Snakes are starting to emerge from their winter brumation to bask in the sun and search for food and a mate across the Ballarat region.
The Ballarat Snake Catcher had its first call-out in the first week of September, while a snake bit a dog at a Ballarat East property on September 9.
"Snake season has well and truly begun. We're starting to get some calls, not too many yet, but usually the season starts off slowly at the start of spring," said Jules Farquhar of the Ballarat Snake Catcher.
"What we can expect is snakes will be moving around, covering a lot of ground during September. They come out of their winter brumation (the reptile equivalent of hibernation) and the male snakes are travelling long distances in search of female mates."
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Mr Farquhar said snakes were starting to bask in the sun not far from where they spent the winter.
"As the warmer months come on, when the days are consistently warm enough, when the snakes will be really moving around in all sorts of places, looking for food and mates," he said.
"They are a little bit sluggish at the moment as they come out of winter brumation."
Mr Farquhar said it was useful for residents to know the species mostly found in Ballarat was the lowland copperhead, a highly venomous snake ranked about the 13 most venomous in the world.
He said about 95 per cent of Ballarat callouts were for the lowland copperhead (austrelaps superbus).
"They are almost exclusively the only snake we get for whatever reason Ballarat is perfect for copperheads," he said.
"They are very calm species, they won't bite unless they are really provoked. People need to give them a wide berth and they won't have any problems. Keep your dogs away."Jules Farquhar
The Ballarat Snake Catcher occasionally gets a call out for eastern brown snakes (pseudonaja textilis) located to the north, south or west of Ballarat, including Clunes, Snake Valley or Dereel.
Given last week's dog snake bite at Ballarat East, Mr Farquhar said it was a reminder for residents - who lived near snake happy areas - to be mindful of the condition of their yards and adjacent properties.
He said properties could be made unwelcome to snakes by keeping them clean, mowing grass and filling in holes or gaps where snakes could enter.
"If you see a snake the recommendation from any sensible snake catcher is to not approach a snake. If it's on your property, a bush property, and the snake's far away from the house or where people go, then it's not a problem you can just leave it," Mr Farquhar said.
He said if the homeowner perceived the snake of being a risk, to call a snake catcher of they wanted it removed.
Fortunately the dog that was bitten will make a full recovery after a Ballarat vet administered anti-venom.
Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning issued a snake warning this week, urging residents to make sure they were informed about how to react to them if they encountered one.
It said species commonly found in the Grampians region included the copperhead, tiger, red bellied black and brown snakes.
DELWP senior wildlife management officer Belinda Cant said snakes were more common around the urban fringe or in rural parts of Victoria, but they could be found close to cities and towns, particularly around watercourses and parkland.
"Most snake bites occur when people try to capture or kill a snake," Ms Cant said.
"Snakes can be known to bite animals, such as dogs, if they feel threatened. If your dog or cat encounters a snake, the best course of action is to remove your pet from the area or tie it up while the snake passes and if you suspect your pet has been bitten take it to a vet immediately.
"Snakes are generally very shy and prefer to keep away from people and often when a snake is found in a backyard it's because it's moving through the area to other habitat."
If you live in an area with snakes, remember:
- When left alone, snakes present little or no danger to people.
- If you see a snake, keep calm and move yourself and anyone with you (including pets) away from the area.
- Don't attempt to capture or harm snakes.
- Maintain lawns and clean up around your house, as snakes are attracted to shelter such as piles of rocks and timber, sheets of metal, and building materials.
- Undertake first aid training and ensure your first aid kit contains several compression bandages, and if someone is bitten, call 000 immediately.
Snakes are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 and it is illegal to harm or kill them or capture them without authority. Reports of people willfully destroying protected wildlife will be investigated by the conservation regulator.
Contact Ballarat Snake Catcher on 0439 242 889 or DELWP on 136 186.
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