Snakes are undoubtedly the most fascinating of our vertebrate animals. Whilst only a very small percentage of people look at snakes with affection, everyone has a story, myth or opinion on them. People are amazed by snakes, whether because of their connections to the biblical serpents, their unique lifestyle or that some species can kill with deadly poisons.
Snakes are a great conversation starter. It is unfortunate that most of these conversations are not based on fact. Many popular stories about snakes are so far from the truth it is hard to credit that anyone can believe them.
In Australia, we have numerous large and/or potentially deadly snakes, which fuels people’s fear of them and leads to many harmless snakes and even lizards being killed. Most people in Australia have a snake in their yard at some time, and many snakes are permanent residents that have shared our yards with us for many years. It is only when people actually see them that they are aware of their existence.
Snakes are rarely aggressive and prefer to slip away rather than confront something as large as a human. They can also be an asset around the home. Many snakes eat rodents and other pests.
Threats to snake survival
- Habitat destruction: As more bush is destroyed, snakes are forced to move into residential areas, seeking food and shelter.
- Cane toads: Many snakes dine on frogs and toads, but unfortunately, the introduced cane toad will kill them with its poison.
- Cars: Snakes are often killed attempting to cross roads.
The following snakes are found in the bayside area of Brisbane, Queensland.
These are not considered a threat to humans:
- carpet python*
- green tree snake*
- brown tree snake~
- white-crowned snake*
- marsh snake~
- common keelback*
These can be dangerous and should be avoided:
- red-bellied black snake~
- yellow-faced whip snake* (to a child)
- small eyed snake*
- eastern brown snake~
(* common ~ uncommon)
Looking out for/after snakes
All snakes are protected. There is seldom a justifiable reason to kill one.
Potentially dangerous snakes can be relocated by trained snake handlers. Untrained persons should never attempt to relocate or kill them. Around 90 per cent of people bitten by snakes are attempting to catch or kill them. Give snakes room and there should be no conflict.
Simple ways to avoid problems:
- Watch for snakes basking in the sun on tracks or pathways.
- Wear boots if walking through long grass.
- Stamp your feet to alert snakes to your presence and avoid unnecessary confrontations.
- Beware of woodpiles or old car parts in the backyard, where snakes may have made a home.
If you need assistance with a snake, call the National Parks and Wildlife Service or the conservation section of your local council.
Download this information
You can also download and print this information as a handy leaflet here.