Tanzen – Reptile Expert (Guest Speaker)

Welcome Tanzen our guest speaker, has been working with reptiles for 30 years.

Tanzen – this session we can run as a bit of a Q & A, so that I can answer the snake questions and information that you are actually interested in.

Question 1: The big belief is that snakes hibernate in winter, is this true?

False, they will go to sleep in cold weather but they still need to find water and sometimes food. Our reptiles experience Brumation instead of hibernation, they have dormant periods but will wake in warmer weather. Even in middle of winter you need to be aware especially on warm days.

Q2: Snakes caught in plastic netting, what is the best practice?

I have a tiny pair of scissors, and it takes such a long time to slowly snip it off. I have to restrain the animal and slowly cut off the snake as gently as possible. Plastic tube over the head, or in a pinch even a drink bottle. You would call a professional snake catcher as it is a difficult type of rescue.

Q3: Snake bite first aid?

I do teach first- aid classes for snake- bite where we go in depth, but to gloss over it, the first thing to do is to get that person flat on the ground and as still as possible no playing on the phone etc., and use the immobilisation and compression technique. If you can take a photo of the snake – great, it can be used for ID, never try to catch It.  I suggest to people you keep a snake bite kit stationed around the property, eg garden shed, pool shed, horse shed, so that you’re not walking all the way to the house on acreage. The kit should have sterile swabs and bandages to compress the tissues.

Snake bite deaths are now down to approximately 2 deaths per year. Years ago it averaged about 5 deaths per year.  It is very low.

Q4: Snake identification?

Unless you know what sort of snake it is 100% don’t comment with suggestions on snake ID Facebook groups. It’s outright dangerous.  Scale counting is done to identify snakes  with a strange pattern or colour, not easily identified.  To differentiate between venomous and non-venomous there is a scale called the loreal scale.  You need to research and get very used to what you are looking for.

We get similar species as Brisbane, which is where I have come from, the only difference being coastal taipan – Glenwood has the coastal taipan.

Q5: Red belly snakes – do they keep brown snakes away?

There is some truth to it, Red- Bellied Black snakes used to be known as the  ‘farmer’s friend’ as they don’t kill the livestock, they are highly cannibalistic and will eat any other snakes.

Eastern Brown snakes are also cannibalistic, they will eat another snake that is smaller than themselves.

They are both defensive snakes, but they will attack if they have been attacked and harassed by people, animals/dogs etc.

Q6: Are snakes aggressive if they have a nest etc?

Most snakes will lay eggs and leave them, they don’t guard their eggs. The only snake which sits on her eggs is the carpet snake and she will defend her eggs. She’s a fantastic mother.

Q7: What are the laws if someone asks you to move a snake for them from their property?

You require a Damage mitigation permit – there needs to be a good reason/for safety etc.

When relocating it’s to be as close as possible to the point of capture.  They are territorial, they have their own territory so if you move them they can have some troubles if they then have to fight other snakes in another territory and get injured or killed trying to get home.

Q8: How to train dogs to be wary of snakes?

Other states have Canine Snake Avoidance training to teach dogs about avoiding snakes, electric shock collars are what is used, I have heard of someone on the gold coast who is doing it.

Q9: People don’t realise – they go to kill a snake – and often this is the best way to get bitten, snake catchers are not free are they?

Definitely not! Like other jobs we need to be paid, we have training and experience and skills so we need to be paid to continue to provide this service. Some People don’t realise you have to have a permit and the expense of vehicle running costs etc. We have living costs. If I’m not being paid for snake catching, I am going to work a paid job as a registered nurse and won’t be available.  I need to make a living like everyone else.

Q10: What to do if a python has clamped/latched onto you?

They have curved teeth like a fish hook, they can really hook into your arm, but you can’t pull them out to get their teeth off. You can put vinegar or even drinking alcohol into its mouth to get it to let go – sometimes you need to do it a few times if they are really latched on or determined.

Q11: I’ve heard of a tip that a diesel and oil combined and put around the property puts a snake off by the feeling on its belly when it goes over it – is this true? What about tiger balm? What works?

I haven’t tried it but I believe it to be a myth, possibly the smell, but the feeling on the belly wouldn’t have put it off.

Tiger balm – maybe due to the strong smell, but again, we’d need to try some tests, which I could do using captive snakes. I’m not aware of any trials or testing that has been done.

I have been given products to test such as electric snake deterrents etc, and these do not work, I’ve seen snakes wrapped around them!

 Q12: Do Keelback snakes or any other snakes eat cane toads?

Some snakes can eat small cane toads, they can’t eat big ones, there’s a theory that the snakes with small heads are the ones which might able to eat the little cane toads (not as much venom as large cane toads). Keelbacks are widely accepted as eating small toads and Common Tree Snakes have been seen eating them and it’s hypothesized that Red-bellied black snakes can eat small toads.

Q13: Why did you breed your Carpet Pythons were they to sell?

 It was mainly for the experience and they would be sold. I have used different incubation methods, I have used incubators and also watched the maternal incubation of snake eggs which is truly amazing, I have learnt so much from keeping captive snakes.

Q14: Does Ratsak etc kill snakes if they eat poisoned vermin?

We (a friend and myself looked into this a bit) think snakes are fairly resistant as they have anticoagulant in their venom , but for birds they can’t cope with the anticoagulant at all – birds of prey and other birds  are likely to die if they eat vermin poisoned with Ratsak .

Ratsak “naturals” is a new one based on cellulose. Can always add peanut butter if rats aren’t eating.

Q15: What about nets/things to use or avoid around the house and garden?

Anything lying on the ground can harbor snakes, low growing plants or clumping plants provide snake cover. With hedges etc keep the bottom clear/trim it up off the ground 20-30cms so snakes can’t hide right under.  Keep building materials etc up off the ground.

Use wildlife friendly netting as other netting will trap and slowly and painfully kill wildlife. 

About 1 in every 3 roofs will have a snake in them.

Q16: Are venomous snakes found in a roof?

Very rare, mostly carpet snakes and tree snakes.

Q17: Do snakes interbreed?

No they don’t. People can see two snakes from different breeds fighting (they aren’t mating) and then two mating that are slightly different colours and think that interbreeding is occurring but it does not.

Q18: Have you heard that snakes have two penises?

Hemipenes is the word for two penises. Yes, they have two so they can approach the female from either side but they only use one at a time.

Q19: How to get a snake off a sticky trap?

Vegetable oil will get animals off the sticky trap, soak the whole thing in oil and oil on the aninal . Sticky traps are terrible for many animals, including snakes.

Q20: Where should we go for Posters and photos etc to put up at home so we know the snake breeds better?

I’m not sure. Qld Museum used to be a good source.  Try Google, normally on government sites or council websites there will be good photos etc.

Thank you Tanzen for your fantastic talk, Tanzen has settled into the area and is contactable for snake removals, Tanzen’s number is 0408 886 225.

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