Environment

What Canberra's 'watch out for snakes' signs really mean

'WARNING. Brown snake seen in this area. Please be aware.'

Zoe Burrowes, sister Ella and their dad Ian, of Melbourne, scoot past a snake warning sign.
Zoe Burrowes, sister Ella and their dad Ian, of Melbourne, scoot past a snake warning sign. Photo: Melissa Adams

Many parents would take one glance at that sign posted near the family-friendly shores of Lake Burley Griffin and fret about a venomous reptile emerging from the bushes and biting their children.

How could the government expect visitor numbers to the Westside shipping container village at Lake Burley Griffin to top 100,000 over summer if it is in the heart of a deadly snake zone?

A sign near Lake Burley Griffin warning people of a brown snake that was seen in the area.
A sign near Lake Burley Griffin warning people of a brown snake that was seen in the area. Photo: Melissa Adams

Well, it doesn't quite work like that, a TAMS spokesman explained.

The chances are that by the time most families came across that sign, the snake had already moved on.

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Canberrans are clearly curious about how to be vigilant of snakes, as a recent video posted to the ACT government's facebook page was viewed 68,000 times and had nearly 1000 shares.

 
Snakes in the Capital

For those of us who aren’t snake charmers, here’s a few snake safety tips for summer...

Posted by ACT Government on Sunday, December 6, 2015

So when The Canberra Times asked the ACT government for a map of all the warning signs it had placed around Canberra at various snake hot spots, the TAMS spokesman said Canberrans should not be mistaken that there are always more snakes where warnings exist.

"Snakes are transient animals and could be seen in any area," they said.

"Signs asking people to watch for snakes have been placed in a number of locations in urban open spaces around Canberra to provide a general warning about the risk of snakes moving through," they said.

"People should remain alert to the possible presence of snakes anywhere during the warmer months and not just areas that have been signposted."

Ranger Kirsty Gould said red-bellied black snakes are are most commonly seen around creeks and in river beds as they mainly live off reptiles and frogs.

But because brown snakes feed on mice, they are just as likely to be found around suburbs.

She said that Territory and Municipal Services had carried out at least 10 snake removals in the past two months.

However, they only respond to a small percentage of calls, because people often think that sighting a snake in the street or their backyard is means for removal.

"We get a lot of calls for them when people see them around, but they are just looking for food or water," Ms Gould said.

"We will only remove them if they are inside a building or confined in a small space."

Two recent examples were when a snake was found in the cupboard of a vet surgery and inside an Actew-AGL workplace.

During spring, rangers also were called to move dangerous brown snakes out of two office buildings – one in Fyshwick and another at the Royal Canberra Golf course.

The eight types of snakes living in Canberra are the brown snake, red-bellied black snake, tiger snake, black-headed snake, highland copperhead snake, death adder, white-lipped snake and the blind snake.