Moorabool snake catchers say there has been a spike in snakes captured around the region.
Manfred Zabinskas, a catcher with 30 years experience, described it as one of his busiest years.
The 58-year-old, who attends call-outs ranging from Daylesford to Creswick, said he now receives three or four calls a day when conditions are snake-friendly – and believes the snake season has got longer in recent years.
Jarrod Bingham, whose area includes Bacchus Marsh, believes call-outs to the town are about double last year’s years level when he would take about four calls a fortnight. This year, Mr Bingham estimated them at the same rate every week. Jules Farquhar, one half of a team of brothers often called to collect snakes around Ballarat, said he would normally average about 30 calls per season, but estimated this summer as about 50 or 60.
“It’s a lot higher [than usual], no question of that,” Mr Farquar said.
Each area has colourful tales of unexpected encounters between man and reptile.
Mr Bingham reported retrieving a tiger snake from a bathroom, while Mr Zabinskas said he recently caught a whip snake in the toddlers’ section of a public pool in central Victoria.
“It was country so they were pretty laid-back about it,” Mr Zabinskas said.
“They were still swimming in the pool two metres away. In Melbourne, they would have evacuated four suburbs.”
The catchers partly explain the higher call-outs as the upshot of greater awareness of their service, while Mr Bingham cites development around Bacchus Marsh as a significant reason for the rise in snake encounters.
Mr Zabinskas attributed the rise in sightings and call-outs to longer-term shifts in the climate.
“One of the things I have really noticed over the 30 years that I’ve been a catcher is how the snake period has actually extended,” he said.
“Last year, in particular, I was still getting snake calls into May, which is just outrageous.
“Even in the winter, we were getting multiple days that are up into the 20s and that’s going to reactivate snakes again.”