January 16, 2019 BY ALESHA CAPONE STEWY GATT, AKA STEWY THE SNAKE CATCHER. PHOTO BY DAMJAN JANEVSKI. It has been a busy summer for Stewy the Snake Catcher. The Wyndham-based snake expert – whose name is Stewart Gatt – said that he was so busy across Christmas and the New Year that he did not take any time off. Mr Gatt said, who is contracted to remove snakes for both Wyndham and Hobsons Bay councils, also attends call-outs at homes and businesses across Melbourne. He said that in recent weeks, he has removed snakes from suburbs including Altona, Altona Meadows, Hoppers Crossing, Manor Lakes, Point Cook, Tarneit, Truganina, Williamstown, Werribee and Wyndham Vale. “We did nine snakes on Christmas Day, including an Eastern Brown snake which was in the foyer of the Tarneit train station, to escape the heat most likely,” Mr Gatt said. Just before Christmas, he was called to the Anaconda store in Old Geelong Road, Hoppers Crossing after staff noticed a snake in their camping section. Mr Gatt said he ended up catching 1.5 metre-long Eastern Brown Snake – the second-most venomous snake breed in the world – in the sleeping bag aisle. Aafterwards, he took the snake out to Crown land and set it free. Mr Gatt said that it was illegal to kill snakes, as they are a protected species. He said anyone who spotted a snake on their property should call a licensed snake removalist. Veterinarian Dr Karen Davies, from Direct Vet Services in Point Cook, said that she had recently seen two dogs who had been bitten by snakes within the area. Luckily, both dogs recovered – although one, a Jack Russell, went into full respiratory arrest and veterinary staff had to manually breathe for her for two to three hours. Dr Davies said she had also seen snakes attacked by dogs, including four which had to be euthansed due to the severity of their injuries. Dr Davies said said that it was important for pet owners to keep their gardens tidy and to keep water elevated off the ground, to help keep snakes out of their yards.