To say snake catcher Sean Cade has been a busy man this season is an understatement.
The professional reptile handler receives two or three calls a week from Macarthur residents.
On Thursday, October 12, Mr Cade picked up and released an eastern brown snake from Narellan Hotel car park.
Red-bellied black snakes and eastern brown snakes were most commonly found in the region.
“We have been out to Harrington Park, Narellan, Camden, Kirkham, Oran Park, Cobbitty, Smeaton Grange, Narellan Vale, Elderslie, Mount Annan and Currans Hill,” he said.
“Campbelltown, the campus at Western Sydney University, Blair Athol, Leumeah and Ingleburn are also popular for call outs as is Picton, Thirlmere, Tahmoor, Bargo and Razorback.”
Mr Cade said the start of this year’s snake season had been so busy he’s considered quitting his day job.
But there hasn’t been a breeding frenzy, he said, only a significant displacement of snakes.
“It’s not that there’s more snakes,” he said. “It’s just there’s less habitat for them and more people living in those spaces.”
The man who founded Australian Snake Catchers was adamant rapid development in Sydney’s south-west was driving snakes onto the street.
Where once there was a grassy field with plentiful hiding holes, hundreds of houses, shops and roads now dominate the landscape.
”Snakes used to inhabit the bush areas but houses have been built there and snakes are being dispersed outwards,” Mr Cade said.
“As the development is added to in stages, the snakes find themselves surrounded by houses.
“After the building stops, the snakes gravitate back to their original homes which have now become people’s houses.”
Mr Cade said he could get up to 15 calls a day from anywhere in Sydney, the Blue Mountains and Wollongong.
“As a general rule, my wife and I go out to most jobs but I sometimes have to call on the catch and release network to go to calls if I can’t make it,” he said.
Residents are advised to remain as calm as possible if they see a snake.
“People should keep their eyes on the snake but back away and call a professional reptile handler immediately,” Mr Cade said.
The snake catcher said pets, commonly dogs, were bitten by snakes and the animal reacted differently depending on the type of snake and venom.
Common signs of a snake bite include sudden weakness followed by collapse, unexplained bleeding or swelling, brown urine, vomiting, reluctance or inability to walk and breathing problems.
Mr Cade said some snakes caused an animal to collapse and then they seemed to recover.
This can give false confidence that the animal is fine, but the snake toxins are spreading through the system. Within a few hours, other signs start to develop.
If an animal is bitten, owners should contact a vet immediately.