Snake warning to pet owners

PET owners have been urged to resist the temptation of ``playing umpire'' during altercations between venomous snakes and inquisitive cats or dogs.

``Never interfere if you see your cat or dog playing with or attacking a snake,'' Kings Meadows veterinarian Angela Offord said yesterday.

``You do not want to be the one bitten by your pet, or worse yet, the snake itself.''

Snake sightings are expected to spike in coming weeks as record-level rainfalls subside and overgrown vegetation dries out. 

Dr Offord reminded pet owners that domestic cats and dogs were prone to being bitten by snakes after provoking the shy creatures.

``If you think your pet has been bitten, seek treatment and assessment straight away,'' she said.

``If you see a snake and you have pets at home, get somebody to collect and relocate it immediately.''

Sightings are most common between January and February, but Reptile Rescue chief executive Ian Norton said the snake handling service had already received more than 40 calls since the end of October.

``We definitely haven't reached the peak yet,'' Mr Norton said.

``We're expecting to be really run off our feet over the next two months.''

The most common species spotted are copperheads, with some sightings of tiger snakes usually reported.

Mr Norton said while copperheads were among the deadliest snakes on the planet, they usually posed no risk to humans.

``Copperheads won't just come up and bite you,'' Mr Norton said. 

``Most people are bitten trying to remove snakes. Just stay right out of their way, and leave the business of removing and relocating them to someone who knows exactly what they're doing.''

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