By Maureen Cooper, Wooragee Landcare
I had just been watering the vegies in case the predicted storm didn’t eventuate and I found a big red-bellied black snake caught up in the bird netting which I had put over my seedlings. The wind had blown it off the bed and the snake was tangled up in it. It was so wrapped up that I couldn’t get it off by myself, so I rang my neighbour Fred to see if he would help. He said it would be quicker to kill it but I wanted to release it so he held its head while I cut all the netting away. Some of it was right into the scales so it was a delicate job to cut it off without cutting the snake. Julie held the snake’s tail so it wouldn’t writhe and get further entangled and we managed to get it all off without causing any damage. There was a little blood on one spot from the netting but I thought it would heal.
It was angry but didn’t strike at us when we let it go and it slithered over the bank to safety. I hope he doesn’t come back but at least it can’t get tangled in the netting again as I had to chop it all up to get him free.
I have often seen this snake in my vegetable garden and I have tripped over one a couple of times and even had one slither over my feet and also between my legs when I got in its way. They have never attempted to strike at me so I just talk to them and tell them how beautiful they are. Which they are, with their wonderful black and red colouring; a real fashion statement. I have often sat quietly at the dam and watched a red-bellied black snake quarter the banks in its hunt for prey.
As they feed mostly on frogs, lizards, small mammals such as mice, other small snakes and fish I have no quarrel with them and will continue to enjoy their presence on my property. We need these natural predators to keep the mice in check.