Spending time with wildlife Supervisor of Reptiles & Amphibians Michael Vella, we are quick to learn the difference between venomous and poisonous. Working with six (6) different venomous snakes here at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary as well as assisting in any snakes that are brought into the onsite wildlife hospital, Mr Vella points out the venom is the substance which is injected and is not harmful if ingested. Poison however is something you consume. Good to know, as we move past the Tarantula enclosure and begin to work with the Death Adder.
Finding a snake on your property or worse still in your home can be a frightening experience. So we took some time to talk to Mr. Vella to learn a little more about these species we had here at the Sanctuary as well as discuss how the general public should approach these wild animals.
Touring the back of house facilities the first snake we looked at was the Death Adder, whose name strikes fear alone. A smaller or shorter snake they are somewhat distinct with their light tipped tail which resembles a grub. They wiggle their tail in scrub as they camouflage themselves waiting patiently for their prey. With one of the fastest strikes of any Australian venomous snakes they hunt by lure and not through chase.
Next we viewed the Mulga or more commonly known as the King Brown and often mistaken for the Eastern Brown. More closely related to the Black snake they have a beautiful almost metallic lustre and you can see why they have been deemed “king”. There is also the fact they eat other reptiles including other snakes! It pumps more venom than the red bellied black snake but the venom is less potent.
Before our tour ends, we visit the onsite wildlife hospital where a mildly venous brown tree snake has been brought in, sustaining injuries from being caught up in a roller door. Mr, Vella who has extensive experience handling snakes is on hand to help nurses sedate the snake for X-rays.
“It is very important that people do not try and identify snakes at home, or assume they know their species or if they are venomous or not. Here at the hospital we have strict guidelines that state we will not identify a snake from a photo, online or over the phone. We urge people to leave snakes alone, and in case of accident contact the hospital who will help you organize a trained professional to come and remove the snake. Handling snakes puts you at unnecessary risk.”
Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary’s website has Animal Fact Sheets you can access and use, which contain information about their onsite snakes www.cws.org.au/animal-fact-sheets/. We also have a great course in Reptile management and give people the opportunity to hold a snake daily and have your professional photo taken. Come to the Sanctuary or visit our information online to learn more about our venomous reptiles.