It's a common understanding that Australia contains a lot of things that will bring your life to a painful end: Snakes, spiders, sharks, crocodiles, cassowary, blue-ringed octopus, irukandji (box jellyfish)...It's a long list to be honest, long and dangerous, however 24.6 million of us live here quite safely and most tourists make it home alive. Sure, people get taken by crocs, sharks and die from various bites from the more dangerous of our fauna however in the main it's reasonably safe. Certainly the cities, where most of us live, are anyway.
Those who follow my blog will know that I'm out and about in the bush and remote areas camping, hunting, off-roading, hiking, kayaking and generally avoiding people, whom I find repugnant, mostly. Being in the outdoors means I get to meet some of the interesting characters we have here, close up and personal. I wrote a blog about one such hike a week or so ago which you can read here if you would like.
Now, on this particular hike I only came across a few humans however the national park I was hiking in contains one of our most notorious and deadly Australian's and I thought I'd write about it a little today.
The Eastern Brown Snake, known here also as the common brown snake. It is considered to be the second most venomous land snake in the world and is responsible for some 60% of snake bite deaths in Australia. The snake grows to 1.5 to 2 metres in length (7 feet) and is found in most habitats Australia except for dense forest and is dispersed across roughly the eastern half of the country.
It is also quite commonly found in urban-fringe areas and farming land as it's prey, the common house mouse, is found increasingly more in those areas also. Australia's drought conditions also force them to seek water closer to urban areas and snake catchers are kept very busy seeking them out and removing them. Image above is not an Eastern Brown but is one of the only snake photos I took myself so I used it.
Whilst not as venomous as the Inland Taipan - The world's most venomous snake (based on median lethal dose) also found here in Australia, the Brown's venom has its greatest affect on the circulatory system causing coagulopathy, haemorrhage (bleeding), cardiovascular collapse and cardiac arrest. Dead, dead and dead...Usually. Collapse has been recorded as quickly as 2-3 minutes after envenomation and death, if untreated, is rapid and painful. If the
tourist victim is treated correctly death after four hours of envenoming is not common.
The most effective treatment is not to get bitten. If you do, a pressure bandage to the bite-site should be applied and the victim should try to stay as immobile as possible whilst being immediately transported to hospital. The anti-venom has been available since 1956 and should be administered as quickly as possible. It has a good success rate if treated quickly enough.
The snake is most active during the day although will retire on extremely hot days emerging later when it's a little cooler. Their most active months are during Spring (Sept-Nov). Cool days don't bother them too much though and they have been found basking in the sun on days of only 14 degrees (celcius). The Brown hibernates in winter although will emerge to bask in the sun on warmer days as well. They are typically solitary, avoiding other brown snakes...Sort of like me with other people.
This is a tricky one. Simply walking through the scrub could mean an encounter as they may be out moving around or basking. They have also been found coiled in ugg-boots left on the porch in urban areas or under back yard rubbish etc. They can pretty much be anywhere. I stepped on one in a hole once a few years ago...I'll tell that story sometime in the future - Still freaks me out.
Generally one is best to make some noise when walking in the bush or national parks...Don't creep when out hiking. The snake will generally hear you and slither way before you see it although if startled they will take one of two defensive poses, which are ofter mistaken for aggressive ones. These snakes can be quite aggressive, skittish and easily-riled up.
- Defensive one - Body partially lifted off the ground horizontally, flattened neck and sometimes mouth open.
- Defensive two - Body lifted high off the ground vertically, neck coiled into S shape, mouth open. This is a full defensive display and a position the snake is most easily able to strike from. Usually bites are on the upper thigh for this reason.
Studies have shown that the snake more easily recognises dark clothing and will move away more readily. If you move slowly encounters are more possible although strikes less common. I believe this is due to the fact slow-moving makes less noise but is also less threatening to the beast. September to October can be tricky as the males are preoccupied with mating and may not notice you until the last minute. They'll go to their full defensive display rapidly in this situation. So, stay still, give the snake plenty of room to retreat and let the snake move away. Don't run and don't try and get your phone for a fucking selfie unless you want to die. Still, you getting bit by Mr. Brown will make for a good post I suppose.
These snakes can be jittery and get annoyed easily so stay still, slowly back away and give the snake plenty of room to retreat. Don't get between it and its way outof the situation. Do not poke it with a stick, kick it, throw anything or run at it - You'll lose.
Most countries have dangerous fauna...Well, maybe not the UK. I think the most dangerous thing there leaves you with 2-3 weeks to get to a hospital and typically a bandaid (sticky plaster) will generally solve the issue in a few days. Australia is known for it's dangerous fauna, sure, however millions of people live here and make it work.
I've seen many Eastern Brown snakes (and others) in the bush, had a couple go to defensive two on me and there was that time I stepped on one which I had nightmares about for a couple months after. Other than that time I never felt at risk of a bite. Being sensible about it matters as does keeping still in the advent of seeing one. It's unlikely, if you do that, that the snake will strike at you.
A little common sense when in Australia will go a long way. Want to go surfing? Cool, there's sharks and if you're ok with that then go ahead, your decision. Want to swim in the Daintree River in FNQ? (Far-north Queensland) Go ahead, you'll probably get taken by a croc - No one will jump in and try to save you either. Want to take a beach-swim around the tropical areas in the wet season? Yep, crocs and irukandji might get you. Want to tool around in the bush like a wanker...Well, you'll probably see a snake. We have warning signs for a reason: Crocodiles, sharks, rip-tide's, box jellyfish, snakes, spiders and the like...Read, and obey, the signs and you might just survive your dream vacation to Australia.
Design and create your ideal life, don't live it by default
Discord: @galenkp#9209 🇦🇺
Following are a couple of videos from YouTube if you're interested.
Just a note: Don't do what this crazy Australian bastard does in these videos below...Especially the first one. Both of these videos give a really good idea about the two defensive poses the brown snake will take.
In case that wasn't enough for you here's another crazy fucker who likes handling these things.