There’s a snake in my backyard, what do I do?

Wildlife Posted Sep 15, 2023
An Eastern Brown Snake is lucky to be alive after it was attacked by three dogs this week. It was subsequently treated for wounds this week at RSPCA Queensland’s Wildlife Hospital in Wacol as snake season commences for another year.

If you live in Australia, particularly in Queensland, it’s almost a given that you will come across a few snakes in your lifetime. For the most part, our scaly natives will be far enough away, or in a safe location to not be a danger to you, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and it’s important to know what to do when you cross paths with a snake.

Centralian Bredli Python being held by RSPCA snake handler

There’s a snake in my house! What do I do?

Whilst unlikely, these slippery reptiles can find their way into your home easier than you think. You may not even realise they are there most of the time, but if you do come face to face with a snake in your home, the first thing to do is get yourself, pets and children a safe distance away. Try your best to keep an eye on the snake at all times. If it is isolated to one room, and you feel like you cannot monitor it, close the door and wedge a damp towel under the crack of the door to ensure it can’t escape. Make sure you do this with a long object to minimise the risk of getting bitten! Once secured, call your local snake catcher to have an expert safely identify the snake and remove it from your home.

Signs to look out for if you think you have a snake in your home:

  • Finding snake skin inside the home
  • Hearing abnormal sounds coming from dark, cramped spaces
  • If you are used to having rodents around the house, a strange absence of these creatures could be a sign a snake is on the move.

Diamond python being held by RSPCA snake handler

What do I do if my pet has been bitten by a snake?

If you think your pet has been bitten by a snake, keep them calm and transport them to your vet immediately.  If your vet isn’t close, apply a pressure bandage over and around the bite site to help slow the venom spreading. Do NOT wash the wound or apply a tourniquet.

What are the signs of a snake bite in my pet?

  • Sudden weakness followed by collapse
  • Shaking or twitching of the muscles and difficulty blinking
  • vomiting
  • Loss of bladder and bowel control
  • Dilated pupils
  • Paralysis
  • Blood in urine
I’ve found a snake in my backyard! What do I do?

It’s fairly common to come across snakes in suburban backyards, particularly those with lots of bush and shrubbery where they seek refuge. Normally, snakes will go about their business without harming you, your pets, or themselves, but if you do feel they pose a risk, keep a safe distance away and grab a picture of the snake if possible. Call your local snake catcher and ask them to help identify the type of snake – if it appears to be dangerous or venomous in any way, they will be able to come and remove it from your premises safely. In many cases, snakes like carpet pythons are harmless and go about business without the need for removal.

If you see a snake that appears sick or injured call our 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) and our RSPCA rescue team can assist.

Head and neck of RSPCA Water Python
How do I protect my smaller pets from snakes?

If you keep mice, rats, guinea pigs, chooks and birds, their enclosures can attract snakes, ensure they are secure and there are no openings large enough in which snakes can enter. Sometimes you may even see snakes taking up residence near your chook house. They have been known to eat eggs and also catch mice and rats that are attracted to grain left out. Keep your cats indoors or in secure outdoor enclosures where snakes cannot access.

I’m on a hike and a snake has crossed my path – What do I do?

Out on a bushwalk is one of the most probable places to cross paths (literally!) with a snake. The Australian bush is their natural habitat, and so it’s important to remember that you are the guest in their home. There are many ways to avoid coming into contact with the reptile though, most simply of which is keeping a keen eye on the trail ahead. In dense, bushy areas, always wear long pants or garters to protect the ankles from potential bites, and wear solid, closed-in shoes. Stick to the designated track at all times and avoid venturing out into grassy, covered areas without the right protective gear. It’s also important to watch where you put your hands, particularly around trees, logs and rocks, as snakes often hide in these places. 

So, you’ve taken all the precautionary steps yet still find yourself faced with a snake a little too close for comfort. The first thing to remember is that it’s just as scared of you as you are of it. Remain calm and still, and assess the situation logically. If it is behaving calmly as well (and is not facing you or in a striking position with its head reared) back away slowly in the opposite direction, making sure to keep a constant eye on the snake. Never provoke it or throw objects to try and get it to move out of your way. If you feel surrounded or trapped, the safest thing to do is to stay as still as you can, and wait for it to move off on its own, or call a snake catcher to get professional assistance. 

RSPCA Woma Python curled on grass during summer

I’m driving and have spotted a snake in my car! What do I do?

First thing’s first, try your best to stay calm! Whilst normally it is important to keep an eye on the snake at all times, in this situation it is more important for your and other road users’ safety to keep your eyes on the road. Turn your hazard lights on to warn other drivers that you may be unpredictable in motion and pull over as soon as it is safe to do so. 

Once the vehicle is fully stopped and the engine is switched off, assess the situation calmly – is the snake still, and away from you? Is it looking agitated or too close for you to move? If you do feel unsafe to move, wait calmly for the snake to settle and hopefully move away from you so you can carefully step out of the vehicle. If it does not move, try to access your mobile and call a snake catcher for help. 

Once out of the vehicle if it is safe for you to do so, keep an eye on the reptile and call a snake catcher, or leave the doors open to prompt the snake to slither out on its own accord. The most important thing in this situation is to not panic and understand that the snake is just as scared as you are.

Baby Stimson Python held by RSPCA snake handler

Here is a recent snake rescue.

Whether it be the home, the great outdoors or even your car, remember that snakes will never harm you unless provoked. Do not touch them without the assistance of a licensed snake handler, and never attempt to kill them, it is illegal and also puts you at greater risk of being bitten.

Snakes are a vital part of our ecosystem, and so it is important to let them live their lives in peace. 

Jessica McLaughlin
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