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.
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.
- This is a skink.
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