Monday, October 23, 2006

Australia: Snakes On the Move as Drought Worsens

2006 AAP
October 23, 2006 - 6:35PM
Photo by Victoria Museum
Struggling farmers, barren fields and increased food prices are the most obvious signs of drought. But, Top End residents are being warned of an equally serious menace - and it slithers. As temperatures increase, people are being warned to be on the lookout for snakes."This year is expected to be a particularly busy time for us as it has been so dry in the Alice Springs region for many months," said Reptile Centre director Rex Neindorf.
Ten calls were made to a 24-hour emergency hotline to remove snakes last weekend and included the capture and relocation of an eastern brown snake. Although snakes don't need water because they don't sweat, Mr Neindorf said they rely on food to keep their fluids at a reasonable level, meaning more of them were on the ground in search of a meal. "Because conditions have been so dry for such a long time, food is scarce compared to previous years, meaning snakes this year are likely to be more active than in previous years in their search for food," he said.
The larger snakes about this time of year include the mulga and western brown snakes, and Mr Neindorf said their capture was best left to the experts. "When people see a snake and report it to us we recommend they watch the snake from a distance of between five and 10 metres as being adequate," he said. So great is the threat, residents are being urged to program the hotline number into their phones or store it in a safe place above the fridge.

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