Snake catcher Jake Hansen has removed two venomous snakes from private properties in Orange in the past week – and the snake season is yet to officially commence.
Mr Hansen, one of the two seasoned and licensed snake catchers in the western region, captured one copperhead snake on Sunday and another on Tuesday.
Copperhead snakes are a genus of venomous pit vipers and are commonly found in high altitude areas such as Orange.
“It is just the start of the season,” said Mr Hansen, who captured 108 snakes last year and 90 snakes the year before.
The snake season in NSW generally runs from late September to April.
Australia is home to 140 species of land snake, and 32 recorded species of sea snakes.
About 100 Australian snakes are venomous, but only 12 are likely to inflict a fatal wound, according to the NSW Government Department of Environment.
The department says the most dangerous snakes belong to the front-fanged group, “which in NSW include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder, mulga or king brown snake and a few species of sea snake”.
Killing snakes is prohibited in the state, however, and only a licensed herpetologist is authorised to remove snakes from properties or residential areas.
A spokesperson from the Western NSW Local Health District, which covers about 250,000 square kilometres in area and 270,775 people, said there had been no snake bite deaths in the past four years to July 30 this year.
But there had been several incidents of snake bites.
“A total of 304 people have been either presented or treated in emergency departments across the district for a snake bite during this period,” the spokesperson said, adding that the district was well-prepared to handle snake bite incidents this season.
Snake bite incidents in the last four years in the western region:
Mr Hansen said people need to be careful of their surroundings to prevent a snake bite.
“Remove all loose ground cover from around your home. All rubbish, logs, wood and sheets of tin have to go if you don't want snakes taking up residence,” he said.
“Where possible, eradicate rodents from around your property. Keep birdseed, compost, chook feed or any other rodent attractants in airtight bins. Also, keep your grass short.”
Mr Hansen said snakes such as the eastern browns have adapted well to urbanisation and human presence over the years.
“These snakes mostly feed on rodents and are believed to be the world’s second-most venomous snakes,” he said.
Eastern brown snakes are believed to be in the areas close to Charles Sturt University and the Mitchell Highway in Bathurst.
Mr Hansen had one of his big catches of eastern brown snakes from Bathurst in 2016.
The snake catcher said tiger snakes, which are also venomous, are common in some parts of the western region.
They can be spotted in damp areas and also close to a river.
“Kelso has a lot of tiger snakes,” he said.
Mr Hansen provides his services for $120 in Orange, Bathurst, Blayney and Cabonne council areas. He can be reached on 0414 945 124 if you spot a snake on your property.