By Breanna Inferrera
RECENT incidents in Mundaring and Swan have led a Kalamunda reptile expert to remind residents across the Echo News readership to remain aware that snakes are a very real danger.
Not everyone can say they have owned 70 reptiles at once, caught a snake in a dress and heels, and received calls from residents at midnight needing lizards removed from their toilet.
But Bickley resident and snake catcher Lisa Harrap is no stranger to this.
Ms Harrap runs Perth Hills Reptile Removal with her partner Adam Firstenberg.
She said she can’t keep track of how many callouts she has attended as we find ourselves in the middle of snake season, with snakes most active from Spring to late Autumn.
“Everywhere we get callouts,” she said.
“If we can make it, we’ll go.”
Just last week, a Shire of Mundaring resident, who asked not to be named, called Ms Harrap after an unexpected encounter with a dugite which was approximately 1.3m long.
“I was hanging out the washing when I heard my terrier dog jump on something,” she said.
“I looked down in time to see her dragging a dugite out from a hiding place in a bush.
“Luckily, I got her to drop the snake and we both ran inside, then I called Lisa.
“Unfortunately, or fortunately, said snake had disappeared by the time Lisa got there.
“Thankfully for us, Mr Snake looked like he was halfway through digesting a rat, so his mouth was too full to bite our little dog, so she lived to fight another day.”
Ms Harrap said she highly recommended snake avoidance training for dogs.
“It will save you the cost of having to treat an animal if it gets attacked,” she said.
Last month Ms Harrap had a callout from concerned parents whose children were playing at Woodbridge Riverside Park and Playspace.
“It was for a dugite that was seen in the playground,” she said.
“It was first seen on top of the rock playground and someone stupidly chased it down the side of the embankment into the rock wall.
“There are signs all around saying beware of snakes, however, nothing saying who to call in case they see one.”
Ms Harrap has also attended callouts to playgrounds in Bushmead and Wattle Grove.
In September 2019, St John WA reported a surge in the number of West Australians treated for snake bites.
From July 2018 to June 2019, 169 people were treated by paramedics for snake bites, in comparison to 104 people who were treated in the 12 months to June 2018.
Furthermore, the state’s paramedics were busiest during summer, with January recording the largest number of snake bite patients.
Ms Harrap said she has been bitten by non-venomous snakes before, but not a venomous one.
“I’m always very careful with what I do, and I’ve handled hundreds of them,” she said.
“It’s very important to apply a medium compression bandage and call for assistance immediately.
“As long as you apply a bandage to the limb, it buys you a lot of time.
“And don’t move because venom actually travels through the lymphatic system so movement will help spread that venom faster.”
Ms Harrap said snakes were most active from Spring to late Autumn.
“As soon as the sun comes out and it starts to warm up a bit, snakes will be out,” she said.
“Snakes are ectothermic, so they need to move in and out of a temperature to have the optimum body temperature to actually function.
“On a mild day they can come out, they’ll roam about, find food and then they’ll go back somewhere cool as soon as they get too hot.
“You won’t always see them out in the open, especially on a really hot day, they tend to bury themselves in the ground to stay out of the sun, they might only come out to feed in the late afternoon.”
Keeping garden waste and junk to a minimum, clearing underneath things, and cutting long grass were some of Ms Harrap’s top tips to keep snakes away.