Snakes Alive

by Stuart Clowes

A Green Tree Snake caught under a slab of concrete on a grave







The snakes are opaque - this is usually a sign of a snake
about to shed its skin


My wife Jen and I love to visit the beautiful country cemeteries around the Northern Rivers. They are picturesque, peaceful, and you get a real sense of the history of the area. Usually the only souls you encounter are those of the departed, but on one such recent visit, we encountered a living soul [of a slightly different variety].

As we approached one particular grave, a large brown coloured snake rose up to greet us. After the initial surprise, we moved closer to check him out and soon realized that he was partially trapped under the large marble slab on top of the grave.

I know a little bit about snakes as I have had some training with their rescue, but I am by no means an expert. I could not be sure of the identity of this snake at first glance, but there was no way I could leave him trapped like this as he was baking in the hot sun and being attacked by birds.

The slab was incredibly heavy and I could not budge it with my bare hands, so I fetched a tyre lever from my car and was able to lever the slab enough to allow the snake to escape to the safety of my snake bag which is always on hand in my car for just such a rescue.

As the snake was dehydrated and had scale damage, he was taken into care and subsequently identified as a Green Tree Snake [non venomous] covered in brown mud from the red soil contained beneath the grave slab. He was given a few days R&R, cleaned up and subsequently released back to the area he was found.

You may notice in this photo that his eyes seem opaque - this is usually a sign of a snake about to shed his skin and this fellow was in the process of doing just that, probably in an attempt to escape the clutches of the grave.

Moral of the story - most brown snakes are NOT actually Eastern Brown Snakes, but merely "brown coloured" snakes. Don't kill a snake because it is a snake…….just leave the poor bugger alone, and it will generally go away [although this one wasn't going anywhere].

A large percentage of people who get bitten by snakes are in the process of trying to kill them. If you have a real problem with the location of a snake, you must get in touch with your local wildlife group or a registered snake handler so it can be professionally moved from harms way.