Summer time on the Deck

It is a lovely summer day here in the Huon Valley Southern Tasmania. In the 20+ years I have lived in my home, I have only seen a snake 3 times in my surrounds. The first was a black snake, just slithering across the road as my dogs and I were going up the road for a walk. The second was last year I was watering the garden and one slithered rapidly away.

Today I went out onto my deck which is 1metre(3foot) off the ground. I was moving something, and out of the corner of my eye I saw movement, black and yellow stripes..slithering really fast, away it was not super close, about 1 meter from me it was a suprised by me, as I was by it.

It was a tiger snake. I had forgotten Tiger snakes can climb up human structures. There is so much bush around my home.

This image is not mine I apologise I am unable to locate whose it is. If it is yours I am happy to acknowledge it.

Tiger snakes in the wild have a broad diet that includes fish, frogs and tadpoles, lizards, birds and mammals, as well as carrion. As the size of the snake increases, so to does the average prey size, however this increase is achieved not by larger snakes giving up on small prey but by them taking more large prey. Tiger snakes are largely diurnal and hunt for prey during the daylight hours; however they will forage on warm evenings. They will readily search underwater and can stay under for at least 9 minutes. A bat was found in the stomach of one museum specimen, demonstrating the tiger snake’s ability to climb. Invertebrates have also been found in tiger snake stomachs however these could have been taken as part of carrion; other taxa such as grasshoppers and moths however may have been ingested as prey. Cannibalism amongst wild tiger snakes has also been reported. Prey items are grasped and subdued quickly by the powerful venom, with sometimes constriction being employed as well.

Available prey size is thought to play an important role in dictating the adult size of tiger snakes in some island populations. For example, on Chappell Island the snakes are typically very large and take advantage of the seasonal abundance of fat muttonbird chicks, whereas on Roxby Island where there are no nesting seabirds the dwarf population of snakes survive on mostly small skinks.

There are three snakes found in Tasmania and all are venomous. Though one the white lipped snake has never had any recorded deaths from its bite.
Whilst my snake was easily to identify by its colours not all tiger snakes in Tasmania have such clear markings.

Fact, not fiction

  • The forked tongue is not venomous but is actually a chemical brush used to transfer molecules to the Jacobson’s organ in the roof of the mouth, where the snakes sense of taste and smell is located. A widely forked tongue increases the ability of a snake to track its prey.
  • Snakes do not have ears and cannot hear sound. Instead they detect sound by sensing vibrations passing through the ground.
  • Snakes’ skin is not slimy and normally it is dry.
  • Snakes are not attracted to milk beyond the fact that it is wet and easy to find by smell.
  • The venom toxicity of a juvenile snake is the same as that of an adult although they usually produce less venom.
  • Less than 10% of newborn snakes survive to adulthood. Most are eaten by predators, such as birds or feral cats, or are killed by humans.
  • In reality the danger presented by snakes is not nearly as great as perceived. Sporting accidents, dog attacks, lightning strikes and even peanuts cause more human deaths in Australia than snakebite.
  • In Tasmania the presence of the Blue-tongued skink (lizard) is no indication that snakes are absent.
  • Tasmanian snakes are unlikely to attack people unless they feel trapped or threatened. It is easy to mistake a snakes bluff or an attempt to reach shelter for an attack.

Southern Grass Skink | Department of Primary Industries ...
Photo from Department of Primary Industry and Environment Tasmania
  • This is a skink.
I am sorry I am not able tocredit the photographer for this photo.

This is an eastern blue tongue lizard.

I realise that on my deck are little frogs. So it may also have been after those. ​I also realised I was up really late this morning and normally I fill the large plant pot saucer of water I leave out for the echidna, the blue tongues and snakes. So this lovely guy/gal may have been looking for water too. All available on my deck.

So many people are terrified of snakes. Yet hop into their car every day with out thinking.
The last recorded death from snake bite in Tasmania up until January 2020 was in 1977. As sad and hard for the family of Mr Fish who died in 2020 Two deaths in 50 years makes snakes bite risk pretty good for humans.

Of course dogs and and other animals get bitten and some die. If your know your dog has been near a snake rather than wait to see if it has been bitten, take it to the vets. Waiting can cost the dog its life.

If your dog is barking at a snake get the hose, and direct it at the dog to force it away.. giving the snake time to flee.

As I live in a rural area I am fine having snakes about my home. They do not want to harm me as I do not want to harm them. During summer I usually do not let them out by themselves. But I do thump the ground when I walk and slam my front door. Since snakes react to vibration rather than noise.

My Grandfather my pop was a rabbiter , he raised his family in a tent in the Australian bush and he told me in regard to snakes that they do not want to use their venom on humans as it is how they kill their food. They are scared of humans so just walk away.

He also told us to respect them and look at their beauty. He also said not to remove one from our area if we have one as another will move in. The one you had knows your patterns and will try to stay out of your way. The new one wont.

I will be making more thumps when out on the deck and about the garden.

I do not fear snakes, I respect them keep my distance. I provide water for them so they do not have to come looking for it. I will not be leaving any of my doors open for the foreseeable future..

blessings to You, Tazzie

First sighting

It hit 40dC/104dF here today.

I went out about 9;30am daylight saving time, to water the veggies in the garden and those in pots on the deck .

Miss Treacle chose to stay in the cool of the house. All curtains drawn, windows facing the north and west(southern hemisphere so these are the hot areas) I place those windscreen sun protectors the foil ones on them as well. Works wonderfully, but the house must look like a meth lab. So far no police ramming down the doors!

Busby and I ventured out. It was not too bad at that time, but you could feel it was going to heat up fast. I went to water my watermelons plants. Not holding out hope for watermelons. As I watered Busby was wondering down a path, and just out of the corner of my eye, I saw a swishing movement on the ground, Busby also saw it. I realised quickly it was a snake. There are only three types of snakes found in Tasmania. All snakes in Tasmania are poisonous

Top to bottom) Tiger Snake, White-lipped Snake and Lowland Copperhead Snake

I was only afraid that Busby would be curious and go closer to it. He did, and so I sprayed him with the house. I told him to go up on the deck. He looked at me stunned..that look what I didn’t do anything wrong! I felt really guilty as Busby has always been very scared of the house when I am watering. I don’t ever recall spraying him , but I must have. As I have had him since a very young puppy. (fostered him and his two siblings). He was great he did as asked.

I was not worried about the snake for my sake. It was moving away from us and heading for cover. I did spray water about a lot to discourage it from hanging around. I did feel very sorry for it too. As it was just sliding along enjoying the sun and heat. It also did the right thing.

I have lived here for 20 years and this is the only snake I have ever seen in my garden. I have water about for the animals and birds. I am assuming it came out to get a drink.

I wished it well, and told it that I would do it no harm, please do me and my dogs no harm either.

I have only seen one other snake the dogs and I were walking up the road our house is on. about halfway up the hill is a dam. It was another hot day and I am thankful that my dogs were distracted by some smell.

The snake slithered across the road to the dam. I could no longer see the snake but knew it was down closer to the water. So I encouraged the dogs to come and off we went. On the way home no stopping at the dam for a drink today.

Snakes generally don’t want to bite. They only do if cornered. Generally. So my Poppy who was a bushy taught us. He also taught us that if you have a snake living near your house, it will get to know your routines, and try to avoid being around when you are. So I will be making thumping the ground ,as snake have no ears so cannot hear when we go out side. I doubt I will leave them outside on their own for a while.

It was a healthy snake beautiful and quite large.


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