Story of some Brits living in New Zealand for the Southern Hemisphere Winter in 2004
(Recent Entries Here)

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Healesville Animal Sanctuary!!! (and the snakeman)

Finally made it to the Animal Sanctuary at Healesville, thanks to Noel lending me his car again. Well, what an amazing place. Very nice to see koalas up close but the kangaroos were the nicest, so friendly! (tame!). Lots of interesting birds too.

friendly roos

active koala (rare - must've been the rain and cold!)

normal koala

tasmanian devil

A highlight was a meet the keeper do with the Snake man. He had a very clear message, 'snakes are much maligned and are not agressive'. He delivered a pretty good speech to that effect, whilst a tiger snake (4th deadlist venomus snake!) was making its way across the floor towards his feet. He lovingly picked it up (with a metal snake rod thing in one hand to keep the head away from him) and unstressed, played around with the snake, which also seemed relaxed.

He explained that if you get bitten by a snake in Oz, which 3000 people a year do (though only 3 die), you should not clean the wound but just wrap a bandage around it, with the kind of pressure you would put on a sprained ankle. You dont clean the wound because hospitals will scrape around it to get traces of venom to put in their venom kit to find out how to treat you. The snake man said you are in safe hands with a snake bite in Oz, and you dont need to kill the snake and take it with you to hospital - mainly because a lot of hospital staff will never have seen a snake and will not be able to identify it! Cooper Heads in particular are hard to identify.

At the end of the talk we waited around to ask a few more questions. I explained that in Costa Rica I was told that if bitten by a snake, you must kill the snake, so they know how to treat you. Snake man said that may be true there.

We got talking about the fact that snakes we perceive dangerous, like cobras, actually have no reason to bite a person. Their venom is not fast acting enough to save the snakes life if they bite someone, so he reasoned, they really don't want to bite something big because it does them no good, though they might bluff.

We got on to kinds of snakes who DO have man as prey. There are apparently 4, the reticulated pythons, which can reach 40ft in size, and the Anaconda is also a possible man eater. The snake man said that you have to be really careful with reticulated pythons in captivity. You never go in their cage alone - they are treated with the same respect as a Tiger. Apparently these snakes can launch themselves at you and drag you back into their coils very quickly indeed. Within a minute you would not be breathing.

What the snakeman had not noticed during his pouring forth on man eating snakes, was that other visitors were walking past as he was talking. His message of, 'Australian snakes arent dangerous' was a bit lost on passers by who heard him enthusiastically explaining how a reticulated python snatches you in its mount and drags you into its coils. He looked up once and quickly reiterated his standard message.

Quite funny!

Sadly Melbourne got extremely cold very quickly during out visit to the santuary leading us to take santuary in the cafe, which was very good, before heading back to town.

saw a magpie too - nice looking things down this way!


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