January 4, 2019 By Sahil Makkar BE CAREFUL: Orange-based snake catcher Jake Hansen says he has caught more snakes this season and is asking people to use common sense when they spot the reptiles. Photo: SUPPLIED KEEP an eye on the ground and keep your pet on a leash. That’s what Central West residents are being told as snake catchers receive more distress calls this summer. Orange-based snake catcher Jake Hansen has already caught 70 snakes this year compared with 60 last year. Mr Hansen said he received more distress calls during the Christmas and new year period because more people were at home. “People being home are more likely to see snakes around their property,” he said. Similarly, Dubbo-based snake catcher Stephen Thomson said there have been more snakes this summer. He has caught 25 snakes this season - 15 more than the last year. The snake season in NSW generally runs from late September to April. Mr Hansen said more snakes are being caught this year because of a combination of factors. “Their space is being encroached through construction activities. Drought also has resulted in snakes moving closer to the source of water and food in residential areas,” he said. “Snakes are also more visible due to the reduced grass.” Mr Hansen asked people to use common sense and practise caution if they spot a snake. He said pets are more vulnerable to snake bites as they actively chase and attack snakes. “Don’t allow pets to freely roam around or let them walk in long grass,” he said. “People can also snake-proof their yards by using a snake mesh, keeping grass short and disposing of leftover foods.” Mr Thomson said the drought and lack of water has seen more snakes in Dubbo. “Construction on the outskirts of Dubbo is another reason residents are seeing snakes. It is affecting the natural habitat of snakes,” he said. He said eastern brown, western brown and blue-bellied snakes are the most common snakes in and around the Dubbo area, but he recently caught a red-bellied snake, which is seen more rarely. Eastern brown, tiger and copperhead snakes are more common in the rest of the Central West. Mr Thomson said snakes don’t attack unless people try to catch or move them. ”The best thing to do is to stay away from snakes and keep pets on leash. “If a snake is known to be in your area long pants and covered footwear is best practice.” Daryl Elphick, a vet at Parkes Veterinary Clinic, said snakes are being found in people’s backyards because of the rising heat. “Snakes are more active when it’s warmer and they probably go to the backyards of people in search of water,” Mr Elphick said. He asked residents to clear all the rubbish from their backyards so snakes have no place to hide. “If people suspect their pet has been bitten by a snake, get to the vet as soon as possible,” he said. “People should put their dogs and cats on a leash as they run around the bush and get bitten.” Mr Elphick treated two cats for snake bites on Friday. Jeena Mcatamney, a vet nurse at Mulberry Lane Vet Hospital in Orange, said the hospital has been getting one to two cases a week. “Pet owners are advised to keep their pets on a leash when they are walking them in parks or grass areas,” Ms Mcatamney said. She said cats are more tolerant to snake venom than dogs. “The most important thing is timely treatment,” she said. “Chances of survival are higher when the pets are treated on time.” Mr Hansen and Mr Thomson are the only licensed snake-catchers in the Central West region and provide their services in Orange, Bathurst, Blayney and Cabonne, Dubbo and nearby council areas. Mr Hansen can be reached on 0414 945 124 and Mr Thomson is available on 0429 149 278 if you need assistance in removing a snake from your property.