Avian and Reptile Specialist Lana Field advises grey nomads about the best way to deal with the presence of snakes on their Big Laps
‘Just like grey nomads, snakes are found all over Australia. Other similarities include being more active in summer, more species preferring to live in the northern end of the country, and sometimes not being welcome at all.
However, there are different ways to deal with snakes, just as there are different ways to deal with grey nomads. This article is limited to advising you on how to co-habitate with snakes, you will have to wait till your older to know how to deal with grey nomads!
When first arriving at a campsite, whether it be at a showground, national/state park or rest area, make sure you have shoes on before you exit your vehicle, this will also protect you from broken glass, prickles, sharp rocks and ant bites etc.
As you are deciding where to set up camp, do a walk around and check for areas that snakes would use as habitat; lawn clippings, garden waste, firewood, long grass, building debris. If possible, remove these items or choose a different site. If you are removing these items, be sure to wear gloves and enclosed shoes. Once you have set up camp, remember to keep your screens closed and well sealed.
This will help prevent snakes from accidentally entering your van. However, if you have an air-conditioner, then you have an entry point that you cannot seal. Snakes enter dwellings not to seek you out but because they are following the scent of food (geckoes, lizards, pet birds) or because they have been fragmented and are seeking somewhere to hide.
They are not wanting to enter your van to eat you. As a grey nomad, you are too tough and leathery to be eaten! Always wear enclosed shoes when walking around the campsite, and take a torch at night. If you are bushwalking, make sure you have a snake bite kit on you and that someone knows where you are going.
If you are in an isolated area, and/or out of phone range, consider purchasing a personal EPIRB. Keep up to date with your first aid training. Tourniquets are a thing of the past. Compression bandaging, immobilisation and rapid treatment are now the way to go. Thick socks and high ankle boots will provide extra protection, or a pair of ‘gators’.
Most importantly, do not attempt to interact with a snake in any way. The snake may see this as an attack and feel the need to defend itself. If you see a snake, stand still, count to five, take three steps back, then slowly turn and walk away. In the five seconds that you are standing still, the snake will be able to judge if you are still nearing it, the backward steps will enable it to see that you are retreating rather than approaching and walking away gives everyone a chance to leave safely.
If you get bitten by a snake, do not walk back to camp. Sit where you are and wait, even if alone. You may live for hours without treatment if you STAY STILL. You may be dead in minutes if you try to walk back.
ALL SNAKES ARE PROTECTED BY LAW. It is illegal to kill, injure, interfere, catch, touch or do anything with a snake regardless of where you or it may be. Snakes are amazing, they come in all different sizes, shapes and colours, they have conquered the land, sea and trees … and all without limbs!
‘Herping’ can be just as rewarding as ‘Twitching’ with much less tripping over as you are looking down more than up. Grab a snake field guide and see how many you can see and identify. Appreciate and enjoy.’