A snake catcher has warned pet owners to take care as spring begins, after three dogs were bitten by tiger snakes in Wyndham last week.

Stewart Gatt, aka Stewy the Snake Catcher, said the incidents occurred between September 1 and 3.

“On all three occasions, the dogs have attacked the snake first and the snakes have retaliated in the only way they can, and that is to bite,” Mr Gatt said.

He said he was called out to one of the cases, in which a Staffordshire bull terrier found a snake in its owner’s yard at a house near the Sanctuary Lakes Golf Club.

Mr Gatt said he found out about the other two incidents, which occurred near Skeleton Creek, through a vet and a contact in the industry.

“September is always busy because the snakes are just starting to wake up, looking for a mate and to find food,” he said.

“At the moment, we’re averaging four to five calls a day.”

Mr Gatt said he received a lot of calls from new estates in areas such as Point Cook, Wyndham Vale and Tarneit.

“If you see a snake, it’s illegal to kill it – they are a protected animal and a vital part of the ecosystem,” Mr Gatt said.

Veterinarian Dr Karen Davies, from Direct Vet Services in Point Cook, said in the first three days of this month she had treated two dogs bitten by snakes.

Dr Davies said one of the dogs had recovered but another, who had initially recovered, was brought back into the practice by her owners after her condition deteriorated a few days later. Dr Davies said she remained hopeful the dog would recover.

She said pets such as cats and rabbits were also in danger of snake bites and it was important for pet owners who thought their animals had been bitten by a snake to take them to a vet as early as possible.

Dr Davies said to discourage snakes residents should keep gardens clean and tidy, with items off the ground and remove water sources.

A Wyndham council spokesman said the council had not received any recent reports of snake bites.