Two snakes whose writhing encounter in ferny undergrowth at Kembla Heights was captured on video have heralded the start of reptile season.
Rachel White noticed the intertwined pair near her Kembla Heights home and posted video of the action as a warning.
WIRES Illawarra reptile co-ordinator Hugh Marriott said the video appeared to show two males locked in combat.
“They may be trying to force the other into submission, so they can get access to the females that are around,” Mr Marriott said.
But a male-female interaction, akin to foreplay, could not be ruled out.
“If they’re intertwined, not actually biting each other, that’s normally a mating stance,” Mr Marriott said.
“You’ve got to be up close and personal to see that [mating] activity taking place at the end of their tails.”
A snake’s reproductive equipment is located in its cloaca cavity, towards the tip of its tail.
Area reptile handlers have come under increasing demand as recent warmer weather causes snakes, lizards and turtles to end their hibernation.
“We’re coming into that really high-activity period for reptiles, where they’ll stick their heads out looking for food, shelter and a mate,” Mr Marriott said. “We’re fielding calls left, right and centre.”
“Having a pond in your backyard will bring in reptiles because they’re looking for food. They’re attracted to what we provide around our homes.
“Keeping your yard clear of rubbish and having the grass mowed and clear is a good idea.
“If you back onto a bit of bushland or reserve, you’re bound to have visitors who will come into your garden.”
Red-bellied black snakes, diamond pythons and “three or four species that people often mistake for an eastern brown snake” are common in the Illawarra. The region is also home to some small-eyed snakes, golden crowned snakes, black-bellied swamp snakes and tiger snakes.
”They’ve all got to be treated as venomous until proven otherwise,” Mr Marriott said.
“The best action to take is to observe from a distance.
“Never approach or try to kill or capture them, because 90 per cent of people get bitten if they try any of those actions.”
Snake activity can remain high until the end of April, when reptiles will start to bunker down for the winter.
Mr Marriott traveled to Hothersal Street, Kiama on Thursday afternoon to tend to a 1.3-metre red-bellied black snake that had become ensnared in bird netting.
He found the creature healthy and highly agitated. It was eventually freed in Albion Park, with the help of a wildlife rescue volunteer.
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