Snakes have been quiet due to drought, but rain might bring them out

Eastern brown snakes aren't as common as you think, says snake catcher Brenton Asquith. Photo: Scott Calvin
Eastern brown snakes aren't as common as you think, says snake catcher Brenton Asquith. Photo: Scott Calvin

It has been a quieter than usual snake season in 2019/2020, says local snake catcher Brenton Asquith.

"It's been very quiet. The whole season has been dead. We've been doing three or four a week," Brenton says.

Normally spring and the lead up to Christmas see a rise in callouts for snake captures and relocations, as it's mating season and snakes are on the move.

Brenton suspects drought is the cause, with little food available for the snakes to eat. And when they don't eat, snakes can simply shut down until food is available.

"Snakes, especially, from my experience with breeding them - if there's no food, they won't mate. They just switch off," Brenton explains.

"There's no feed for the babies, so they don't produce them. The adults are still searching for food to an extent, but when there is no food they shut down as well, they go into a brumation stage. It's the reptile version of hibernation. They don't sleep the whole time; they become less active. They shut their organs down to the bare minimum and do as little as possible. So they can go long periods of time without losing weight at all, they just shut down."

It's been very quiet. The whole season has been dead. We've been doing three or four a week.

Brenton Asquith, The Reptile Dysfunction

In the last six weeks Brenton has not 'done' any venomous snakes. He has left that to a newly trained licensed snake catcher, Jayden, as Brenton is hampered by a badly broken foot. With Jayden taking care of the venomous snakes, Brenton is still catching and relocating pythons and tree snakes.

Pythons, unusually, are making up the majority of their callouts in the last few weeks.

"Before that we were getting a few red bellies. Normally red bellies outnumber everything by mass amounts. We do 70 to 100 a year, pythons are probably 40-50. Brown snakes, last season was my busiest at eight," Brenton says.

"Brown snakes aren't as common as people think. I think we've had three or four confirmed since August. We've had a lot of yellow-faced whip snakes, marsh snakes, brown tree snakes - there are six species that are commonly mistaken for brown snakes, including green tree snakes."

Normally red bellies outnumber everything by mass amounts.

Brenton Asquith

Brenton expects they will start getting more calls for help now the rain has come and there will be more food for the snakes as a result.

"I wouldn't say be on the lookout as such, because I think people should always be on their lookout. I think people should be aware of their surroundings and where they put their fingers and toes and those sorts of things all of the time, because you never know," Brenton said.