It’s not every day that you get the opportunity to learn how to handle snakes and walk away qualified as the go to person if anyone needs one to be dealt with properly. Well, that’s exactly what GTCP Project Manager Karen Hattingh, GTCP Consultant Careena and GTCP15/16 Intern Mel did on Wednesday 14 October 2015 thanks to the guidance of David Manning and his assistant Danielle from Animal Ark. It was an action packed day that started off with a very informative presentation on some of the snake species which occur in WA. Did you know that South West WA has the highest diversity of reptiles than anywhere else in the world? We didn’t!
To help us ease into handling their larger counterparts, we were introduced to calm and friendly Ollie, a one year old Olive python (Liasis olivaceus), and Homer Stimson the Stimson’s python (Antaresia stimsoni). GTCP Project Manager Karen managed to face her strong aversion (her word not ours!) to snakes and hold a gentle woma python (Aspidites ramsayi). Well done Karen!
After having a bit of fun and taking some photos with our new scaled friends, we then learnt about how to apply first aid for snake bites. The important points:
• Treat every bite or suspected bite as serious!
• Make sure to firmly bandage the limb with the injury (or suspected injury) starting from the bottom (hands and feet) and making your way up.
After a light lunch and chat about the beloved reptiles in our lives, David and Danielle took us outside and gave us a demonstration on how to use snake handling tools on less intimidating snake alternatives: rubber snakes and rope. We all joined in, practicing picking these “guys” up with our hooks and tongs and putting them into long bags and securing them with cable clamps or placing them into large green bins with secure lids. After showing our technique to David and Danielle, David brought out some very secure looking bins and that was when we knew that the craziness was about to begin!
First it was two Death adders, (Acanthophis spp.), followed by a very quick Stimson (Antaresia stimsoni), then a very big black-headed python (Aspidites melanocephalus), and finally Fluffy the very feisty Dugite (Pseudonaja affinis). Some were cooperative, many weren’t, especially good-ol Fluffy, but all-in-all we learnt a lot.
By the end of the day, we felt a lot more confident in being able to handle these amazing reptiles and we’re sure that these skills will come in handy in the near future. Thanks David and Danielle for such an amazing day, it was a blast and we are looking forward to the rest of the Field Research Team for GTCP1516 coming to Animal Ark to complete the course as well!
We hope you are all looking forward to lots more field diaries as the interns have officially reached Gnaraloo Station!
GTCP1516 Intern Mel and GTCP Consultant Careena