Snake catcher urges caution

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Adam PoulsenMidwest Times
Dongara snake handler Sherry Martin caught and released this carpet python recently. She said the species was common to the area.
Camera IconDongara snake handler Sherry Martin caught and released this carpet python recently. She said the species was common to the area. Credit: Supplied

Sherry Martin is both a snake handler and a volunteer ambulance officer — a combination that has led to some unique situations.

“I’ve been out on calls where people have been bitten and I’ve had to catch a snake and then attend to the person,” the 57-year-old said.

Ms Martin, who works as a phlebotomist, is regularly called on by the Shire of Irwin to remove snakes from residents’ backyards.

With breeding season now in full swing, snakes are venturing into built-up areas in search of water.

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One of the best ways to keep them at bay is to keep a clean backyard according to Ms Martin.

“They love corrugated tin and sheet metal and stuff like that. And if it’s been sitting there for ages the mice like it, which attracts snakes,” she said.

“Another good tactic is to keep a thin black dish like a frypan at the back of the yard and make sure it’s full of water.

“All the wildlife — snakes, skinks, bobtails, birds — will go and get a drink there and then go away.”

Ms Martin said thirsty snakes were attracted to just about any water source, including dripping taps and even condensation from air-conditioning units.

She said western browns, king browns, yellow-faced whip snakes, and carpet pythons were all common in Dongara.

“Last year I collected about 430, and this season I’ve already got about 30 since September,” she said.

She said she did not charge a fee for her services but a donation for fuel and other expenses was appreciated.

The brown snake is one of Australia’s deadliest, however, all suspected bites should be treated as potentially life threatening.

The Shire of Irwin recommends the following:

  • Call triple 0 immediately.
  • Do not wash, squeeze or puncture the bite site.
  • Apply a broad pressure immobilisation bandage.
  • Keep the victim calm and still and do not give food or alcohol.
  • Never allow the victim to walk.
  • Never try to catch or kill the snake.
  • Bites to the head and body must be bandaged as firmly as possible.

For a list of qualified snake handlers call the Shire of Irwin on 9927 0000. The WA Poisons Information Centre’s 24 hour hotline can be reached on 13 11 26.

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