Before You Shed Your Skin in Fright...
If you hear a soft slithering in the ceiling, chances are a python or tree snake has taken up residence in your roof.
There are 15 species of python in Australia, making up a quarter of all the snakes that live here.
Pythons are probably the most commonly seen snake in suburban backyards, the most familiar being the Carpet Python in Queensland and the Diamond Python in eastern NSW and Victoria.
Summer is python breeding time, and after the female has laid up to 15 eggs, she coils herself around them and shivers - vibrating all her muscles to keep the eggs warm. During the whole 60 day incubation period, mum won’t eat.
After her eggs hatch, a mother Carpet Python will have lost up to half her body weight. She’s hungry! One of the best places for a Carpet Python to find food is in your roof.
People used to believe pythons could get into places where cats could not reach, and so they introduced them into their warehouses to catch rats and mice.
If a Carpet Python is in your roof, it’s looking for rodents to eat. If you can cope with the idea of a snake in the attic, it’s best to leave them to it. Chances are, once they have cleaned out your roof of rats or mice, they will move on.
Pythons are shy and non-poisonous, although it’s best to give them their space. You don’t want to be messing with them, as their curved backward facing teeth do give a painful bite.
To discourage Carpet Pythons, keep the house free of rats and mice.
Keep your chook house clean as dirty or vermin infested chook houses can attract snakes. Snakes don’t so much want to eat eggs or chooks, but are after the rats and mice that hang around chook houses.
Reinforce your chook house to exclude snakes and rodents. Cover it completely with mesh no greater than 12 mm square. It’s amazing the tiny holes that pythons can squeeze themselves through. Make sure you have a good rooster who will defend his flock.
DID YOU KNOW?
Unlike mammals, snakes continue to grow for as long as they live. That’s why they can reach massive lengths: the largest Australian snake, the Amethystine Python from North Queensland can exceed 8 metres, and is one of the biggest snakes in the world.
Pythons moult regularly, and the roofs of some old houses are full of shed skins! If you find a skin, a snake expert at the local Museum will be