Despite Australia’s reputation for snakes, many of us rarely see them in the wild (or really know what to do if we manage to get bitten). Kate’s put together some tips to put your mind at ease.


There’s two reasons I haven’t deleted my Facebook account. The first is I enjoy routinely deleting the embarrassing posts from years gone by that inevitably pop up in my ‘Facebook memories’.

The second is that I’m part of an Australian snake identification group, and it’s hands-down the best thing to come out of Zuck’s social media conglomerate (apart from the We Are Explorers page, of course).

Given that it has 63,000 members (and is growing rapidly!) it seems I’m not the only one fascinated by our scaly, slithery friends.

Of course, not everyone experiences joy and excitement when they spot a snake in the wild. Some people are downright terrified.



I even have friends who absolutely will not go camping in warmer months due to their fear of encountering a snake.

It’s also not uncommon to have friends and relatives who live overseas who refuse to come visit Australia due to our snakes. Misinformation about our misunderstood legless friends just adds to the hysteria and paranoia.

Snakes Get a Bad Rap

Alexandra Holm, who’s one of the founders of the Australian Snake Identification, Education + Advocacy page, is passionate about dispelling the myths and misconceptions that surround snakes, and created the group after seeing a gap in the media when it came to positive representation of snakes.

‘I created the Australian Snake Identification, Education + Advocacy Facebook group with three of my friends (Justin, Aidan, and Rhien) after noticing a distinct lack of thorough and educational information about snakes on social media. Our purpose is to provide all of this in one place, in a way that is digestible to the average person, and is sensitive to the fears people may have about snakes,’ Alexandra said.

As for false impressions when it comes to snakes, Alexandra reckons one of the biggest issues is people misinterpreting defensive behaviour as aggressive and scary, and assuming that snakes want to hurt us.


Black-striped snake (Neelaps calonotus) | Photo by Forrest He


‘I believe the biggest misconception about snakes is that they are to be feared. There’s no denying some species of snake found in Australia are highly venomous, however, like any wild animal – they want nothing to do with us as humans, and will actively avoid us where possible,’ she said.

‘Like any wild animal, snakes will become defensive if they’re threatened or provoked. However, if you give them a wide berth and admire them from afar – they mean us no harm. Most snake bites in Australia occur when the person is trying to handle, injure, or kill the snake,’ Alexandra said.

I had a chat with Alexandra to find out how we can coexist peacefully with snakes and still enjoy the great outdoors without fear.

What are some tips to stay safe around snakes while camping and bushwalking?

  1. Always carry a snake bite first aid kit with you. These can be bought at retailers like Anaconda, BCF, or online at stores like Wild Earth
  1. Protective clothing is a good way to stay safe and prevent or minimise the chance of a snake bite. This could include high leather boots, thick socks, and thick long pants, and gaiters
  1. Other safety devices, such as Personal Locator Beacons and Satellite Phones are a great investment to ensure safety
  1. If you’re going very remote, ensure that you notify someone of where you’re headed, how long you may be, and when you’re due back
  1. If you do encounter a snake, freeze, don’t panic, and assess the situation. Most of the time, a snake will escape before we can see them. However, if they don’t, freezing will give the snake an opportunity to move on
  1. If you have to, give the snake a wide berth and move around them slowly
  1. If you do see a snake, never try to handle, injure or kill the snake. This will put you at a much higher risk of being bitten. Simply admire them from afar and move on with your day

What about camping and hiking with our dogs?

I know that whenever I go out, I like to take my two big dogs with me. It’s important that wherever possible, you keep your dog on the leash – not just for your dog’s safety, but for the safety of our native animals.

Don’t let your dog venture into areas where you can’t see the ground clearly, and do your best to keep them to the trails available in the area.

If you do see a snake, keep your dog as close to you as possible, until the snake moves on or you pass it.


Highlands Copperhead (Austrelaps ramsayi) | Photo by Justin Lantry

What should you do if you find a snake curled up under your tent or any other place around your campsite?

In this situation, it would be best to leave the tent propped up and give the snake a good opportunity to leave. Tents, spaces under pieces of wood or metal, or piles of clothing or tarps, are good shelter opportunities for snakes.

It’s best to limit these while camping, but if you can’t, and do encounter a snake, opening up the shelter and allowing them to move on safely is the best course of action.

If we live in an area that’s home to snakes, what can we do to ensure we can live peacefully together?

I think it’s important for people to remember that the land that we live on, work on, and travel on, was the snake’s first, and sadly, they’ve been displaced and threatened by land development, roads, and invasive species.

If a snake ends up on your property, it doesn’t know it’s your backyard. It’s simply a location to pass through on their way to food, water, shelter, or a mate.

Snakes aren’t aggressive, nor are they out to harm us humans. They perceive us as predators, so if you’re able to give space to a snake you see on your property, and admire it from afar, it won’t bother you. Most of the time, once it’s gone, you won’t see it again.

Snakes do have a home range, but they move through these throughout their life. If you don’t give snakes an opportunity for a reliable food, water, or shelter source, they’re unlikely to stick around.

If the worst does happen and you get bitten, what do you do?

We recommend following the current national protocol for snake bite first aid from St. John’s.

(There’s also this article on How to Survive a Snakebite on We Are Explorers.)

And finally, what’s your favourite snake?

The Coastal Carpet python (Morelia spilota variegata). I live in an area where they’re very common, and I have a regular [python] around my house. I thoroughly enjoy whenever he or any Coastal Carpet python comes to visit. They’re a beautiful, gentle, and very intelligent species of snake.


Feature photo is an image of a Dugite by Jack Bilby