It would seem that St Patrick never visited Bribie Island, or if he did, he had forgotten his Irish miracles. Now that the cooler weather has arrived and the snakes are snoozing, I feel I can recount a few snake stories without tempting fate. The first of my tales are not about a snake at all, but a magnificent lace monitor which was quietly minding her own business in the sun, half-way up a tree in our yard.
The recently arrived European grandmother from next door was attending to her flowerbeds when she looked up and saw this large reptile just above her head. Elderly though she was, she took to her heels crying “‘Viper, viper!” It took some time before she could be persuaded to come out again, and appreciate the beauty of this large lizard.
Loss of habitat and increased development in our area, has not removed our more venomous “pets”. The eastern brown snake is a common visitor, and in the summer months, we keep the yard mowed and watch where we put our feet. Even so, we have had our fair share of excitement. Entertaining friends at a B.B.Q. we took shelter in the shed from a shower.
An uninvited guest also decided to escape the rain and join the throng, and so we had the privilege of seeing twenty, or more, folk simultaneously levitate, with many a panicked squeal. Of course, there is always the skeptic that will claim your venomous Roughscaled snake is nothing more exciting than a harmless Keelback.
Identification can be tricky. Most snakes are a little shy when asked to roll over so you can count their ventral scales. Certainly, my husband Don did not wait upon such niceties before diving to snatch the bouncinette, complete with infant grandson, and placing both on a high outdoor table, as Joe Blake slid by. The tree-snakes in our yard can vie with the lorikeets as regards to their beautiful colouring.
The slender olive-green tree snake with its stunning yellow throat and belly set off with turquoise flecks that curled up on the chairs set out for our English visitors caused quite a stir. Romance is alive in Paradise. My neighbour and I were entranced at the sight of two snakes twisted around each other in a tight embrace apparently, amongst other things, dining together on an unfortunate frog.
We left them to their honeymoon. Finally, a tall but true tale. A few houses down from us, in an old-style fibro cottage, lived professional fishermen and their two dogs, one a poodle, and the other a large Alsatian. Around 11 pm we heard the dogs yelping and barking and the sound of shouting. A large carpet snake, a python, had the poodle in its coils and was squeezing the life out of the poor dog.
The big brave Alsatian was reduced to jelly, knees knocking. The owners rushed out and tried to unwind the snake and save the poodle, but without success. The python was not about to give up its supper without a fight, and, whilst not venomous, nobody was keen to risk a bite from the angry reptile.
Lateral thinking saved the day. The vacuum cleaner was brought out, the hose pushed over the snake’s head and the power switched on thereby immobilising the toothed end. Beginning at the tail end, the snake was forcefully unwound. This was no mean task. Eventually, our poodle friend was free, albeit with bruised ribs, and later made a full recovery. We trust the python also recovered from his ordeal. We never attempt to kill our serpentine friends.
Not only would that be illegal since Bribie is a Fauna and Flora Reserve, but it can be dangerous; being threatened with a large spade would no doubt bring out the aggression in you too. We give them the respect that we feel that they deserve as another fascinating part of our wildlife, and allow them to go on their way unmolested, whilst teaching our grandchildren to look, but never touch.