An enduring myth suggests that snakes are deaf but several behavioural studies confirm that they can in fact hear, though not in the same way as humans because a snake has no eardrums.
Detailed research reveals that snakes do however have inner ear structures connected directly to their jawbones. The jaw rests on the ground as they slither about their activities, and this enables the snake to pick up vibrations travelling through the ground. It could be your footsteps or the tell-tale noises made by a rodent on the move. Either of these signals a message to the brain via that inner ear. The snake interprets the vibration as a potential meal or possible threat, and responds accordingly by using its incredibly sensitive forked-tongue to investigate scent trails.
Understanding how snakes behave around humans is what has allowed us to develop methods of distancing ourselves from them. One of those recent methods has been the creation of snake repellers. Humans have always feared what they don’t understand, and the behaviour of snakes, particularly venomous snakes can be quite terrifying.
VENOMOUS VS NON-VENOMOUS
How Do I know if a Snake is Venomous or not?
To the untrained eye it can be very hard or impossible to distinguish between a venomous and non-venomous snake, especially if it’s a brief and unexpected sighting. You should follow the rule of always assuming the snake is dangerous and keep space between yourself and those deadly fangs.
Of course, some species of snake such as pythons are generally easy to identify by there overall size and colouring. Their body language is also different to most other snakes. Pythons are generally calm and slow moving and despite their size, are unlikely to attack humans unless provoked. In fact it’s quite common to see people with pet pythons! (I personally prefer a dog or cat for a pet)
See the video below for a look at some of Australia’s most common pythons.
If you are planning on travelling to an area with a high population of snakes it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the local snake species. Learn what they look like, where they are found and if they are dangerous. Click here for a list of snakes you may come into contact with in different regions around Australia.
WHAT DO I DO IF I SEE A SNAKE?
If you spot a snake that is a relatively safe distance away from you, say 10m, the best response is to stop walking and move around the snake, keeping a good distance between the two of you.
If you’re unlucky enough to be almost on top of the snake before you see it there are a few important things you need to do:
- Don’t move – stay still to avoid alarming the snake and causing it to strike in self-defence
- Slowly back away – don’t make any sudden movements. If the snake starts moving, let it go. Remember it is also afraid of you
- Don’t try to grab or attack the snake – this increases the likelihood of you getting bitten.
If you are very unfortunate and do get bitten, the image on the right lists some common symptoms you should be aware of. You should also follow some urgent steps to treat the bite and get medical attention for the victim.