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08 September 2021
The entire September 8, 2021 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!
By DEAN LAWSON
A Wimmera spring often comes with a mixed bag of weather as nature wrestles itself free of a winter slumber to pave the way for more settled, sunnier and warmer conditions.
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This annual parry-and-thrust metamorphosis traditionally brings with it an unpredictability and upheaval that reveals itself through strong wind, sporadic heavy rain and hot and cold snaps.
It is also an environmental trigger for wildlife and for Stacy Whitehorse of Gerang Gerung that means being at the ready and for a different type of ‘mixed bag’.
Ms Whitehorse, a former interstate freight-train driver, is now a qualified snake handler and the first day of spring last week signified the first day of snake season.
The burst of warm weather coinciding with the occasion was a reminder that rising temperature is like nature’s wake-up alarm, particularly from the cold-blooded animals such as snakes and lizards.
Reptiles are cold-blooded, which means they go into a torpor during colder months of the year and rely on a return of warm weather to fire up their metabolism and energy levels and give them an opportunity to hunt.
Ms Whitehorse has been a wildlife rescuer for many years and became a fully qualified snake handler in January.
“Because I care for wildlife I have to fly the flag for all wildlife and even though I’m not particularly fond of them, this includes snakes,” she said.
“Like many other native animals, snakes are protected and an integral part of our environment. People who try to kill snakes can put themselves at great risk of being bitten. So I offer capture and relocation services.”
Ms Whitehorse, who will shortly graduate from a four-year wildlife science degree, said the best thing people confronting a snake should immediately do, if possible, was to leave it alone.
She said if the snake was in an awkward or compromising area that presented a threat, then people could call her.
“If it’s possible, it’s important to keep sight of the snake from a safe distance while I’m in transit,” she said.
“If a snake is in a house, it’s best to try to isolate it in a room where it’s gone and block exists such as underneath doors until I arrive.”
Ms Whitehorse said eastern brown snakes, among the most venomous snakes in the world, were a common species in the Wimmera.
“They are critically important in the eco-system, but approached in the wrong way can be a problem. That’s why I offer this service,” she said.
Ms Whitehorse’s business catch phrase is ‘Don’t kill, call, assistance for all reptiles, bitey, scary or cute’, which means she can also collect lizards as well as snakes for relocation.
She said people could call her on her wildlife number 0418 851 112.
“It is a business with both a conservation and health and safety edge,” she said.
“I also do site inspections regarding snakes and their habitats.
“Details are on my Gerang Gerung Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre website, www.geranggerung
Ms Whitehorse said she could respond to calls across the Wimmera, with different price ranges for centres such as Dimboola, Nhill, Horsham, Jeparit and Warracknabeal based on the time of call-out and travel requirements. All money generated from the removal services go to the wildlife shelter.
People with snake-bite emergencies should call triple zero.