Monday, 20 February 2012

Sssssss ...snake!

Whenever I have to call in the tradies, I do a safety check before letting them near what needs to be fixed. This means watching out for the three Ss: stinging trees, snakes and spiders.

Stinging trees won't kill you. (Probably.) But the pain can persist for days, often weeks, sometimes months. At least one species of snake might kill you, but I've got a stack of compression bandages here and the ambulance station is only a few kilometres away. And the spiders will give you a bite sufficiently nasty to cause a headache and prompt some retellings of urban legends, but that's about it. (Oddly enough, the most extreme reaction I've encountered from a tradie was over a huntsman spider that was sitting, minding its own business, on a sheet of tin.) But it's better to do the check and move along the wildlife, wherever possible, than run the risk of having to find someone else to fix the hot water system/plumbing/roof etc etc. Oh, and I don't want anyone to get injured.

Fortunately, the wildlife is predictable. Snakes, in particular, seem to have their preferences. Pythons like the roof, green tree snakes like the pipes around the hot water system, and small-eyed snakes like the shed. I haven't seen brown tree snakes/night tigers on this property, but experience tells me they like the spokes of garden umbrellas. So don't stick your head under the parasol while you're opening it. (No, don't thank me. I'm doing this as s a public service.)

Snake in repose
Beautiful plumage scales, the small-eyed snake

Snake getting pissed off by camera.

The nocturnal small-eyed snake (Rhinoplocephalus nigrescens) is a common rainforest species. I had an uncomfortably close encounter with one while it was out hunting for skinks and I was wandering around without adequate footwear.Apparently tiger snake anti-venom works with bites from this species, so that's a useful thing to know. An even more useful thing to know is that adequate footwear prevents bites in the first place.

I believe there are people who think that the only good snake is a dead one. I'm quite happy to see snakes around the place. My only criterion for 'good snake' is one that hasn't bitten me. I like to keep things simple.