Local snake catchers handle unwanted guests

Stewart Lalor has always had a fascination for animals, and in particular snakes. He took his fascination and passion for these creatures and created a highly successful business. He believes that Australians should be more informed about snakes and what to do in the event of seeing one.

Lalor is a professional snake catcher; he knows how to safely remove these creatures from any given situation. Snakes have their way of sliding into new and weird places. When seeing a snake in your home or office it is important to remain calm and call in the professionals. Below it is an interview with Mr Lalor.

When people call you what is their first reaction? What kind of questions do they ask?
This varies a lot from person to person, sometimes people are pretty calm about the situation, however others that have rather bad phobias can be very upset, a big part of our job is to calm them down over the phone and ensure them that everything will be fine until we can arrive and remove the snake. Once we arrive we always try to educate them to reduce some of the fears.

What was the most dangerous snake you have ever seen during your service?
We always advise people that snakes are only dangerous when interacted with, as no snake goes out of its way to cause harm. The snake of most concern is the Eastern brown snake it is a very common snake we relocate throughout suburbia.

Eastern brown snake
Stewart Lalor catching an Eastern brown snake. Photo: Supplied

It ranks as the second most venomous snake in the world and can become frightened easily, however as stated if left alone it eliminates the risk of being bitten.

Is there a way when people can recognise if a snake is poisonous/ dangerous?
We never like the public to attempt to identify snakes themselves as this can be a very dangerous practice, a lot of our snake’s species vary greatly in colour, size and patterning so without a lot of experience, people can easily misidentify a snake.

We recommend that if it’s safe to do so, to take a photo with their phones and send us through a picture this way we can correctly identify it for them. A common trend at the moment is posting pictures on Facebook to local groups or personal pages, a lot of public like to claim their expertise; but often will just take a guess or go by a Google search which is extremely dangerous.

There are a few snake specific I.D. groups with snake experts around that can be helpful, always be careful that they are indeed credible to give you correct information, if in doubt always contact a professional snake catcher.

Have you ever been bitten by a snake when on the job?
Fortunately, nothing of major medical significance, with safe handling methods we try to maintain this as much as we can.

I have personally received plenty of non-venomous python bites and one bite from a yellow face whip snake which is known to cause a painful bite, but generally does not cause issues beyond that unless the person has an anaphylactic reaction. Still we do not recommend finding out the hard way, as mentioned the bite can be very painful and everyone reacts differently

Are there typical places where snakes ‘like’ to hide on human premises?
Snakes will hang around if you provide them either a food source or shelter, it‘s integral that people keep any pet food such as dog food, bird seeds etc. away, as this attract rodents which is a common food source.

Leaving stuff on the ground creates refuge spots for snakes, keeping yards tidy in general and lawns short is a great idea as well. Prevention is always better than a cure. When it comes to where we find them on arrival, this can be just about anywhere toilets, beds, bathrooms, garages, ceilings, BBQ’s, rock walls and many more places.

Carpet python removal. Video: @elitesnakecatchingbrisbane/Facebook

What are the first things people should do if someone has bitten by a snake?
Firstly, it’s very important that everyone is aware of correct first aid treatment; they can access this information through St Johns website. Some of the don’ts are:

  • NEVER try to capture the snake, it is not necessary.
  • NEVER wash, cut or suck the bite site, the hospital needs this for identifying which snake has bitten you.
  • NEVER attempt to drive yourself to hospital, always call an ambulance.

What is the “best practice” if someone sees a snake?
It’s important that you do not try catch or kill the snake under any circumstance, a very high percentage of bites occur due to this. As mentioned, if you can safely take a photo it’s always good to get one, a professional snake catcher can identify it for you.

If you find yourself in very close proximity to snake we advise that you stand very still and allow the snake to pass by, snakes react to movement. If you are several feet away from the snake, just slowly walk away from the snake’s path and it will move away.

Make sure the area is clear of people and any pets are removed from the situation. If necessary call a catcher to have the snake relocated. Make sure you keep a close eye on the snake from a safe distance until the catcher arrives.

If the snake is in a bedroom inside the house, close the door to that room and place a towel under the gap below the door, the ensures the snakes stays in the same location and makes it easier for the catcher to locate it.

Do you think there are a lot of misleading information/ myths about snakes in Australia?
There is a huge amount of misinformation being put out there on a daily basis; unfortunately snakes have a really bad reputation because of this.  Some of the common ones we hear are:

  • Snakes chase people – This is completely false, often this comes from exaggerated pub stories, snakes will always try to avoid potential danger, a cornered a snake will feel a need to defend itself however will never chase you, occasionally a snake will see an exit behind you and when you run in the direction they can sometimes go that way as well.
  • Snakes are aggressive – Aggression is often used as a word to describe snakes, I strongly disagree. Snakes are simply defensive like any animal if they feel they are in danger they may attempt to warn you off or defend themselves, snakes have fairly short attention spans and once the perceived threat is gone they forgot about and move on.
    Venomous snakes need their venom to capture their prey, using this for any of other reason is waste; they are more flight than fight in most cases.
  • Snakes go out of their way to attack humans or pets – Snake’s do not have the mental capacity to think in such a way, they are very practical and all their efforts are towards self-preservation such as finding shelter, food (rodent’s, frogs, birds etc.) they try to avoid human interaction at all cost.
    Snake bites with pets are a result of the snake being attacked, or the pet was simply curious or playful this causes the snake to feel threatened and it feels no choice but to defend itself.
  • Snakes are easily deterred –There are a lot wife’s tails on deterring snakes, I have heard just about every concoction and method and none are proven to work. Snake repelling devices are also sold, catchers often remove snakes around them and they have no effect on the animal.
Gravid carpet python
Gravid carpet python, Stewart Lalor. Photo: Supplied

Stewart Lalor is one of the professional Brisbane snake catchers, he advises that it is important that you know what do to in a snake situation. The safest option is to stay away and call in the professionals to remove the snake. Do not risk trying to capture a snake yourself as a large portion of snake bites. You should always get in touch with a professional snake catchers.

Mike Smith
Mike Smith
Executive Editor at Best in Australia. Mike has spent over a decade covering news related to business leaders and entrepreneurs around Australia and across the world. You can contact Mike here.
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