As summer approaches, there are more snake sightings and families need to know which snake handlers are qualified in the event of an unexpected guest.
As a part of this year’s changes to State Government regulations and standards there has been a removal of accreditation needed for snake handling and businesses say these reforms could be for the better.
Snake expert and owner of snake handling business, Snakebusters, Raymond Hoser says the government’s removal of this accreditation stops people from masquerading as snake experts when they really aren’t.
“People will do a one or two day course and by then they can certainly catch a snake, but cannot be regarded as snake experts,” he says.
“These experts are then teaching the wrong information to people and can cause a catastrophe.
“The reality is more than half of the snake catchers in this country don’t have a clue as to what is going on.
“This may sound very negative, but it is the truth.”
Director of Slithers and Slides, Marcus Cosentino, also says these basic training courses cannot equip a person to call themself an expert.
“You had quite a few volunteer snake catchers and they would do a four-hour snake catching course, then these people are then allowed to go and catch snakes, this is very basic training,” he says.
“[In these courses] you would only get taught to put a snake inside a bag and that’s about it, and this isn’t practical for real life situations.”
Cosentino says this removal of accreditation allows businesses like his own to personally assess whether volunteer snake catchers know what they are doing and potentially employ them for future work.
“Unfortunately, because of the way the system was set up under the previous legislation you had volunteers who have other jobs and under the law they were legally allowed to ask for money [to do any snake handling],” he says.
“So now that there has been this change and this is what I am assessing now is seeing the viability of bringing more people of board to this as a more full time work, like they do over east and that way you can reliably get in touch with the right people.”
Director of Animal Ark Wildlife Education and Training David Manning, says that in order to keep everyone safe the State Government needs to have a recommended snake catching and handling list for people to find.
“Parks and Wildlife services don’t not provide a list of recommended snake handling. I think they should they at least refer people to reputable sources with competent snake handling and removal skills,” he says.
Raymond Hoser says most of the snake bites that happen by snake catchers are reported incorrectly and says that most times snake handlers are the ones who make the mistakes.
“The snake bites reported are not always reported accurately, the snake is always victimised as the aggressor; snakes don’t bite without provocation, so the snake handler must have done something wrong to provoke the snake,” he says.
Manning says because there is no verified list of experts, companies now cannot decipher who is a qualified snake handler.
“In terms of companies that employ snake handlers, it makes it hard for those companies to know who is a good provider and who is not,” he says.
“With this there are and will be more snake handlers out there with different approaches to snake handling, and different trainers have different techniques to snake handling and different opinions.”
To stay safe this summer Hoser recommends people stay vigilant when walking around especially in bushy areas and to always keep an eye out for kids when they are playing outside.
“If you see a snake do not try and kill the snake yourself, or trap the snake, just keep an eye out where it goes and call the best snake handlers you can find, so they can safely remove it,” he says.