It’s a nightmare we have all had before: You sit down on the toilet, phone in hand ready for some mindless scrolling, when all of a sudden you feel a pinch on your posterior.
Confronting a snake in the can is the type of story that will send shivers down anyone’s spine, but in one of their busiest seasons yet experts are warning it’s more common than you might think.
Mark Pelley, AKA the Snake Hunter, has been called to come and collect many unwanted guests from all over people’s homes in his eight years on the job.
“Every summer we are always looking at a lot of snakes,” Mr Pelley told The New Daily.
“Come spring, all of the snakes emerge in the warmer weather, they’re looking to mate, they’re looking to eat, they’re looking to drink, and they’re looking for shelter.
“What a lot of people don’t realise is that snakes go through the house and through the garden a lot more than people care to admit, but because they’re not home they don’t realise.”
Stuart McKenzie, from Sunshine Coast Snake Catchers in Queensland, has urged families to take a closer look at their surroundings after getting a call to collect a red-bellied black snake found frolicking in a man’s pool.
“As the weather warms up, we regularly see snakes hanging around pool areas,” Mr McKenzie told nine.com.au.
“This is usually due to there being plenty of spots to bask in the sun.”
“It’s important that families be vigilant when swimming in their pool and understand that [snakes] often can’t get back out once they are in,” he said.
Mr Pelley, who has also found snakes in some truly bizarre places, seconds Mr McKenzie’s notion that Australians should be extra vigilant this summer.
“[The client] opened the fridge later and there was an eastern brown snake crawling through their refrigerator.
“When the shopping was on the ground, the brown snake crawled into the shopping bag and they didn’t realise they inadvertently carried it into their house.
I opened the fridge and the snake was in the vegetable crisper.
Mr Pelley recalled another incident where a woman left her handbag unattended at an outdoor event and narrowly avoided catastrophic consequences.
“She put her handbag on the ground, and walked away from it, and thank god some other ladies saw this, but a brown snake crawled across the ground and had crawled into her handbag.
“This was a particularly warm day, and this was a particularly feisty brown snake, and had she picked the bag up and put it on her shoulder – the way women carry handbags – it could have jumped out and bitten her on the neck, or shoulder or face, she would have had only about half an hour to live.”
As snake handlers brace for a busy season, there’s one thing they understand makes this summer different to years past: a surge in snake sightings.
“The coronavirus keeps people at home, so you’re more likely to encounter snakes,” he said.
“Once upon a time, everyone was at work and snakes could crawl through your house and garden without you realising it, now people are home so you’re more likely to encounter them.”
Snake season usually begins in October and November, with the peak usually around December and January.
During that time, Mr Pelley can be called to catch more than 15 snakes per day.
This year’s demand is already proving to be more than he can manage alone, so his business has had to hire two extra handlers.
The Snake Hunter also warned Australians to not attempt to catch snakes on their own.
“They’ll only bite you if you harass them or try to pick them up, if you leave them alone they’ll leave you alone,” he said.
“If you’re bitten by a snake, you need to immediately move away from it and dial triple zero.
“If you’re able to do so, you should apply the pressure and immobilisation technique, which is essentially just bandaging the affected area to slow down the spread of venom. “
Oh, and keeping an eye on the toilet bowl before you sit down won’t hurt either.