Today we ticked off another item on our must-experience-in-Australia list... "a close encounter with a venomous snake".
When I came home from school, I walked my bicycle into the garage. After leaving it in its spot, I saw something move out of the corner of my eye. About a metre away from me there was a dugite snake coiled up in the corner of the garage. It was just less than a metre long. I stood still and watched it, wishing I had my mobile with me so I could take a picture. It was moving around quite a bit, acting agitated maybe from trying to find it's way out of the garage. After just a few seconds, it rather quickly followed the base of the exterior wall to the back corner.
I told Lanette about it and then went to ask the natives next door about what to do. Ellena found some numbers for snake catchers in the area (seems to be a list people here keep around). I called the first bloke on the list - Paul Kenyon, a.k.a. "The Snake Whisperer" as his business card says. He was just catching another snake but said he'd be right over.
Paul recognised Lanette right away. He's a highly regarded cook at one of the hospital's Lanette has worked at. Paul went into the garage and started pulling boxes and such away from the back wall. After less than 10 minutes, he eyed it hiding under a palette. He moved a few more things to get into a better position, and then picked it up bare handed by its tail. He brought it outside and continued to hold it by the tail while telling us very fascinating stuff about it. You'll enjoy listening to Paul in the video Peter captured.
Paul showed us the other snake he had just caught inside a local bank. It was a baby dugite, only about 12 inches long. He takes the 80-90 snakes he catches per year to a nearby national park (Serpentine Falls - one of our favourite spots to take visitors!) to release them. He charges $50 to come out.
We see dugites from time to time on the walking path by our beach. We usually just have to wait a few seconds before they move on off the path. Like nearly every other snake species in Australia, they are venomous. But they're not known for being aggressive. Our Perth Zoo has a good downloadable information sheet on dugites.
BTW - We have had a few more shark stories from our beach lately. On this past New Years eve, Karl, Dane and I were swimming at our beach as the sun was setting when Lanette spotted a shark about 40 metres out from where we were. That was pretty cool to see. It probably was about 1.5 metres long. Also, two Saturdays ago the shark patrol helicopter spotted a school of 120 hammerhead and whaler sharks. They closed the beaches for the day but weren't too worried about them as hammerheads aren't very aggressive and these were all juveniles. There have been a few other shark sightings this summer. They think it's because of the warm water temperatures we've had.
This all reminds me about one of my favourite books about Australia - "See Australia and Die".