Dog walkers in Maitland have been warned to keep their pets on leads until after Christmas because of the threat from poisonous snakes along the banks of the Hunter River.
This warning came yesterday from Reptile Rescue Rutherford after a man and his dog came across a large eastern brown snake at Lorn on Saturday.
Eastern brown snakes in particular are out in force along the riverbanks around Lorn and further downriver, Judith Martin of Reptile Rescue Rutherford, said.
“The riverbanks around Maitland are full of snakes now, including eastern browns, tree snakes, red belly blacks and occasionally whip snakes,” Ms Martin said.
“The riverbanks are chock a block with snakes, and people, especially dog owners, need to be very careful walking there now.
“There are also going to be a lot of problems for council workers over the next few months when they knock down buildings in the present improvement program, because those places are infested with snakes.”
She urged council to keep the grass cut low from the top of the riverbank to the edge of the water.
All reptiles, including the deadly eastern browns, are a protected species, she said.
The breeding season had arrived, so snakes were on the move.
“The eastern brown snakes in particular are a problem and I think dog-walkers are in for a particularly tough time.
“For the safety of their pets, I would advise all dog owners to keep their animals on leads – both around the Lorn area and the town side of the river – from now until after Christmas.
“This could avoid a lot of sadness if a pet was bitten, and some sizeable vet bills.
“It has been quite wet recently and there is a lot of food for snakes around now.
“I think the coming season is gearing up to be pretty busy for us and I would urge everyone to keep a sharp lookout when out walking. And if anyone is bitten, ring an ambulance right away.”
The number for Reptile Rescue Rutherford is 0429 325 905.