Herpetology group says snakes are getting a bad rap

Reptiles, and snakes in particular, are getting a bad rap.

And, says the secretary of the North Coast Herpetology Group Rebecca Wilson, she has serious concerns over the longevity of the species.

"I really do have concerns about the extinction of some of our reptiles," she admits.

"Particularly, when you hear the line that the only good snake is a dead one. I think this is just plain wrong.

"Reptiles are part of nature. They play a significant role in the eco-system. If they weren't here we would be overrun by rodents.

"As a group, we do have some experienced and knowledgeble people in our area and our group is very aware of levels of misinformation being cast around about reptiles.

"Our concern is heightened when you see the repercussions of online discussion."

Ms Wilson, who has four snakes and a blue tongue lizard as pets, says more people are killed from bee stings than by snake bite in a year.

She also wanted to debunk the myths surrounding repites.

There's too many myths out there too. A tiger snake will not hunt you down if you happen to kill its mate and a hoop snake will not bite its tail and roll down a hill away from you.

Rebecca Wilson

"There's too many myths out there too. A tiger snake will not hunt you down if you happen to kill its mate and a hoop snake will not bite its tail and roll down a hill away from you," she said.

"In short, venemous snakes are not out to kill humans. We are not on their menu.

"The only reason they bite us is if they are cornered. It is the last thing they will do."

Ms Wilson said mating season was a particularly busy time for snakes who were 'actively out and about'.

"You can reduce the possibility of reptiles at your home or property by keeping your property neat and tidy.

"Snakes and lizards like tight, dark places so keep your timber pile or excess tin cleaned up and keep the grass cut and the stock feed bin tidy to reduce rodent activity."

If you do encounter a snake on your property, Ms Wilson advised moving everyone - including pets - inside for 30 minutes, or call for assistance.

The reptile enthusiast described her pets as 'stunning animals' particularly her Intergrade snake - a sub-species of the coastal carpet python and the diamond python.

"I think they get bad press," she said. "They are stunning animals, beautiful to look at, fascinating to watch and a real talking point," she added.

The North Coast Herpetology Groups meets at the Lions Club Hall on Hastings River Drive, Port Macquarie on the first Friday of each month at 7pm. More details are available on the group's Facebook page.

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