By Renee Borgeaud
Produced for online by Emily Halverson
A new study shows brown snakes become more deadly as they get older and there has been a spate of sightings.
University of Queensland’s biological science professor Dr Brian Fry led the study into the severity of brown snake venom once they reach adulthood.
The study shows the different ecological habits of baby brown snakes who prey on lizards, in contrast to adult brown snakes who prey on mammals.
“When they start switching onto mammals, that’s when they switch from a nerve-acting venom onto a blood-acting venom and this is when they become particularly dangerous to humans.”
Dr Fry says those who have come into contact with baby snakes may be at a lower risk than those bitten by adult snakes.
“Not only are they injecting less venom but they’re injecting a venom that’s not going to cause the very rapid critical symptoms that are characteristic of the adults.”
He says it is a common myth that Australia is a particularly dangerous country, but there only four to six people dying from snake bites per year.
“Australia has no snake bite problem by world comparison and that’s because most of the people here live in cosmopolitan cities,” he said.
“Very few people here actually interact with the snakes.”
Snakes are protected under the Nature Conservation Act, which makes it illegal to kill, injure or remove a snake from the wild.
With snakes often living undetected, they are unlikely to impact humans’ daily routines.
Queensland Fauna Consultancy’s director Brian Robinson says snakes should not be feared.
“The last thing [snakes] want is to have any level of interaction with human beings; we’re much bigger than they are, so they’ve got more to fear.”
If you do encounter a snake, Mr Robinson says it is important to call a professional and staying out of harm’s way.
Dr Fry says snakes are crucial to the success of our ecosystem, maintaining a successful predator-prey relationship.