With warmer days increasing, upcoming summer temperatures expected to soar and a never ending flow of housing and other developments on the semi-rural fringes of Sydney, there's an increasing likelihood of suburban snake sightings as the year progresses.
As the reptiles emerge from their winter brumation, habitat destruction and climate volatility is expected to force many reptiles into new and nearby housing developments as they look for shaded areas to beat the heat.
In each of the last two years, the August-September period has seen an exponential increase in snake sightings across a number of developing metro areas. But what should you do if you see a snake? And what kind of snake could it be?
AREN'T SNAKES COLD BLOODED?
While some of us may have a mental image of the heat and sun helping snakes to grow and move, this is a false reality. As cold-blooded animals, intense heat can actually be deadly for them.
When the heat increases, Snakes will instinctively seek shelter in dark and possibly damp spaces. Any large and bulky items in backyards - say, tyres or pieces of wood/sheet metal - provide great cover. But they can even burrow through loose topsoil and some species don't mind hiding in higher places as well.
Snakes have been found in gardens, sheds, showers, laundry rooms, kitchen pantries, underneath cars and shoes left outside, just to name a few. If your house has any cool and relatively untouched spots, a snake could make a home there.
The solution is relatively simple - remove the dark and moisture they enjoy. Keep lawns short and maintain gardens, then assess your home and patch up any potential entry points.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SEE ONE?
First and foremost - stay calm and stay away. Snakes aren't overly aggressive but will defend themselves if they feel threatened - even if they're not venomous. Remove all pets and children from the area.
Next, call a snake catcher and try to keep an eye on where the snake goes if it's on the move. There are a wealth of options online who offer safe and speedy removal, with a full list available on the NSW Government's Environment page. Importantly, keep an eye on the snake but DO NOT KILL IT. All snakes are protected in NSW and killing one may be considered an offence.
WHAT TYPE OF SNAKE IS IT?
There is a surprisingly long list of both venomous and non-venomous snakes who call the Sydney area home. While being able to identify the snake in your home or yard is useful knowledge to have, you should keep clear of any snake in a residential space regardless and wait for professional help.
As typically tree-dwelling snakes, Diamond Pythons can often be found hiding in roofs and trees - but they can also burrow and grow up to two metres long. Carpet Pythons, while typically more dull in colour and shorter than their Diamond cousins, are just as agile. The Green Tree Snake is far more slender and can be anywhere from yellow to khaki. Tree Snakes are also active in the day, but will typically flee confrontation and leave a horrible defensive odour.
Red-Bellied Black Snakes have become an increasingly common sight in suburban backyards thanks to habitat loss, but are easily identifiable due to their colouring. Eastern Brown snakes are aggressive when threatened, with a bullet-shaped head, and they can grow up to two metres long. Tiger Snakes range in colour, but are most commonly light grey in the Sydney surrounds. All of these snakes are dangerous, but pose less threat when left alone.