Think August in Canberra and a puffer jacket is more likely to come to mind than an eastern brown snake.
But the discovery of the latter in a school library in the Tuggeranong suburb of Gordon last month has ACT snake catchers expecting a busier than usual snake season in 2019-20.
Luke Dunn, who has run Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation since 2015, said the call-out in mid-August this year was the earliest he had received for a snake removal.
"We do get brown snakes through early September, but usually they're just calls about sightings," Mr Dunn said.
"This [call-out in August] was the earliest we've had to actually go out and catch an adult snake.
"There's been a tiger snake since then as well [in Kaleen], but that was a little baby.
"We don't usually get the go-ahead [to catch snakes] until about the second week of September."
Data from the Bureau of Meteorology's weather station at Canberra Airport shows June and July were warmer on average this year than any other year since the station began recording temperatures in 2008. August was the warmest it had been on average since 2016.
Temperatures have risen above 20 degrees Celsius regularly to start spring, and snakes will become more active as the mercury continues to rise.
Mr Dunn said his busiest period was usually in October, and he was already being notified of snake sightings on an almost daily basis.
Fellow snake catcher Gavin Smith, of ACT Snake Removals, said this season hadn't been any busier than usual for him so far.
But he said tiger snakes and red-bellied black snakes were moving around earlier than usual.
"Certainly, in the next few weeks, there'll be an escalation," Dr Smith said.
"Eastern browns tend to prefer slightly warmer, ambient temperatures, so they won't start moving around as much while overnight temperatures are still getting down around 1 or 2 degrees."
Eight species of snakes are known to inhabit the ACT. All except the blind snake are venomous and five of them, including the eastern brown snake that is commonly seen in suburban gardens, are regarded as potentially dangerous to humans.
Mr Dunn said the key when encountering snakes was to keep a respectful distance and to contact an expert if a snake needed to be moved.
"Don't make any super-fast movements around them," he said.
"Don't run away or run around the snake in any way. Just make nice, slow movements and step away from the snake if you happen to be somewhere close to it.
"Usually, the snake will mind its own business and will continue basking or feeding or mating if that's what it was doing.
"It's only when you rile them up that you're going to have a negative encounter with a snake where someone's going to get hurt."
Mr Dunn said pets were at a higher risk of being bitten and people should take precautions including not allowing dogs to run around in long grass while out for walks during snake season.
Canberra Snake Rescue and Relocation is running its first public reptile awareness and snake safety training session at the Jerrabomberra Wetlands on September 28. The event costs $10 and runs for two hours. Tickets are available on the Jerrambomberra Wetlands website.
- In a previous version of this article, Dr Gavin Smith described eastern brown snakes as "more of an arid snake". He says he should have instead described the species as "preferring slightly warmer, ambient temperatures".