Snake handlers receiving six calls a day

A Hunter Reptile handler has received an average of six call outs per day this month as reports of snakes in homes and workplaces have increased.

BUSY DAYS: Telarah reptile handler Judith Martin.  	Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

BUSY DAYS: Telarah reptile handler Judith Martin. Picture by PERRY DUFFIN

Reptile Rescue snake handler Judith Martin said a trend of late births this year had led to an increase in snakes appearing across the region.

Ms Martin said snakes usually hatched in January but the continued warm weather meant an increase in hatchings in recent weeks.

She said reports of snakes had been evenly spread across the Lower Hunter.

Black snakes have been the most common serpents reported.

After the snakes were caught, snake handlers released them in the closest piece of bushland available, away from a human settlement.

Ms Martin said she had caught four snakes at the Rutherford shopping precinct in the past fortnight.

But the Telarah-based handler warned that some snake catchers in the Maitland region did not have the licence or insurance required to work as a ­qualified reptile handler.

She said National Parks and Wildlife Services published a list of qualified reptile handlers on its website.

“People should make sure the catcher they call is insured and licensed,” she said.

“There are some out there charging up to $500 for a call out and they are unlicensed.”

Ms Martin urged people not to try to catch snakes themselves.

“Don’t corner it, that’s not a good idea,” she said.

“Just keep an eye on it and get someone else to phone a snake catcher.”

Ms Martin was called to Rutherford Post Office last week after employees found a black snake among parcels and mail bags.

It is believed the snake had been in the building for about a week before a postal clerk discovered it.