Liv Johnston never expected to be a professional snake catcher.
She wasn’t particularly enamoured of reptiles as a child, and, like most Australian children, she was brought up to fear snakes.
But when she moved to a country property near Carrick, she decided she should learn a bit more about them.
After taking a course about three years ago, Ms Johnston – and the snakes – were hooked.
“They’re such a misjudged animal,” she said. “Someone’s got to stick up for them, too.”
The course she took had a very much in-the-deep-end approach.
As all three varieties of Tasmanian snakes are venomous – an endemic snake will either be a white lipped whip snake, a tiger snake, or a copperhead snake – the participants were dealing with potentially dangerous animals from day dot.
“We all stood there, we stood in a circle, and they got one of those green bags, turned it upside down, and snakes just went everywhere,” she said.
“We all went everywhere as well.”
The adrenaline rush, and the proximity to the fascinating reptiles slithering around, led to her taking up her current career.
Her day job involves taking calls and heading out to catch snakes and re-release them somewhere less inhabited, under the business name Snake Catcher Tasmania.
She also has a side gig property-managing an AirBnB. She’d like to work as a snake catcher full-time, but there is one major barrier to that being feasible: winter. Long term, she is working towards certification to work with reptiles in schools.
Her tool kit includes a metal hook, a pinner, and tubes for when she has to cut snakes out of cans.
“But nine times out of 10 it’s my hand, and the bag,” she said.
“It is scary, and the adrenaline does pump, but you’ve got to stop and take your time. And the day that I don’t get that adrenaline kick anymore and become blase is the day I put the tools down.”
She’s never been bitten – touch wood – but she’s realistic about the fact that is probably will happen one day.
It’s something she accepts as an acceptable risk to do a job she loves. But that doesn't mean she’s detached from the danger involved in her day-to-day.
“A lot of people ask me why I don’t record my catches, and one of the reasons is that I don’t want to see how close it can actually be,” she said.
“There’s been a few moments of, phwoar … you can feel the fangs on your skin, even.”
At the moment, along with a cat, a dog, a fish, a brood of chickens, her human partner, and three children, she has three pet blue-tongue lizards and two tiger snakes at her home.
She is in the middle of building a bigger enclosure, teaching herself how to do it from the internet, for all her scaly friends.
You would think that a professional snake-catcher would be utterly fearless when it comes to animals of all shapes and sizes. But the biggest downside of caring for snakes before re-release for Ms Johnston is actually a critter of an entirely different sort.
“The thing I don’t like about it is that I have to keep mice,” she said.
“I do not like mice. And I’ll burn the house down if there’s a huntsman in it. But I’ll pick up a venomous snake, no worries.”