Canberra resident Melissa Langerman received a shock on Wednesday when she discovered a large brown snake had been living in her retaining wall, possibly for years.
She said since moving into the home in Gordon about four years ago, the family had spotted a large brown snake near the driveway, but dismissed it as “passing through”.
“Then yesterday morning my son walked down the driveway, saw moving scales and said, ‘I think there’s a snake right on the driveway’,” Ms Langerman said.
“I went and had a look and it was very happily sunning itself outside … partly poking out of the pipe in the retaining wall.”
Ms Langerman said the snake was about 1.8 metres long and “bigger than a 50 cent coin in diameter”.
Australia’s most dangerous snakes:
- Eastern brown snake
- Western brown snake (also known as gwardar)
- Mainland tiger snake
- Inland taipan (also known as fierce snake)
- Coastal taipan
- Mulga snake (also known as king brown)
- Lowlands copperhead
- Small-eyed snake
- Common death adder
- Red-bellied black snake
Ms Langerman told ABC Radio Canberra she and the snake “eyeballed” each other for a couple of hours until herpetologist Emma Carlson arrived to remove and relocate it.
“Emma did a great job of getting it in the bag and I stood well back and watched her,” Ms Langerman said.
“But the irony of the whole thing was when we moved in, I looked at that retaining wall … I had thought, ‘Yeah those pipes look like a good place for snakes to hide in, we should do something about it’.
“Life gets busy and we never did, but I have to say that yesterday’s experience certainly made me think about it again.”
Plans to snake-proof wall
Ms Langerman said she planned to place mesh wire over the pipes, allowing drainage but blocking entry for any other snakes looking for a new abode.
“It was total deluxe accommodation for a snake,” she said.
“It got morning sun on the wall, it had a lovely back area to retreat into, it was the perfect location for it.”
Ms Carlson said the snake was significantly bigger than the regular brown snakes found around suburban Canberra.
“He was 1.5 kilograms, which is quite weighty for a brown snake,” she said.
Stay calm if you find a snake
Ms Carlson said people who came across snakes in their garden should try to stay calm, keep a safe distance, and keep an eye on where the snake was moving to.
“The first port of call is to move kids and pets away from the area and keep them safe inside,” she said.
“Sometimes a snake is just passing through quickly and there’s really nothing anybody can do about it.
“Other times, if they’re injured, they might be hanging around because they’re hurt and can’t move anywhere.
“Or it could be food, water or shelter that’s keeping them — in this case the shelter was the drawcard.”
Ms Langerman urged people to remember that retaining walls were a good place for snakes to hide, but warned against residents poking their fingers into any pipes.
“Don’t take matters into your own hands. Ring someone who knows what they’re doing,” she said.
“We live with snakes all around us in Canberra … so they’re there and we just have to be careful.”