Natural Area News

Snake Handling Training

With more trapping and relocation works coming up for our consultancy team some of our crew were fortunate enough to become certified snake handlers.

We conducted the course at Animal Ark by the very knowledgeable David Manning who has 30 years of experience under his belt. Our day started off with a lecture on snake biology and behaviour, basically if the reptile is limbless, can’t blink (no movable eyelid), has no external ear opening and has a forked tongue we will assume it’s a venomous snake and should only be handled by trained personnel.

At morning tea we were able to handle some of the non-venomous snakes such as the Stimpson’s, Woma, Black-headed and Olive Python and luckily for us it was also the weekly feeding time for the Southern Death Adder. These snakes have one of the fastest strike rates in the world and everyone in the room flinched (especially myself as I was holding the mouse) at how quick it was.

David then went through first aid and told us his real-life experience of being bitten by a Death Adder. Interestingly David did not require antivenom at the hospital and he believes it is due to how fast his team reacted in getting the pressure bandage on his arm and how he remained calm and immobilised throughout the situation. Due to these actions the venom never made it up his arm and he showed no signs of toxicity over the 10 hours he spent at hospital; he only suffered a sore purple finger for some time as his body naturally processed the venom.

After lunch we learned two capture methods which we conducted on rubber snakes. The first one was lifting the snake into a bin with a hook or grabber, and the second was guiding the snake with a hook or grabber into a bag that is then carefully and securely clamped. Then the real fun began, we knew we were never going to pass this course without actually capturing dangerously venomous snakes. As snakes are ectothermic (relying on surrounding temperatures for energy) we were quietly relieved that it was very cold and windy outside, and we were only having to deal with lethargic individuals. The venomous snakes we were required to catch were Dugites, Mulga snakes, and Tiger snakes.

The course was enjoyable, I highly recommend David as he is an excellent teacher, very professional and informative. We are now very excited and much more confident in relocating these stunning creatures.

– by Michael Beeton

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