Brown Snake In Garden Netting
This was a tough one. A few days back I got a call nice and early in the morning from just north of Brisbane. A property owner was concerned about a rather large eastern brown snake caught in his garden netting, found that morning but by the looks of things stuck there since yesterday afternoon. He was still active but obviously distressed and badly caught, so we kicked into gear and headed to his property at a good pace. Upon arrival we found this big, gorgeous male eastern brown snake, pushing 2 meters long and about wrist thickness at his chunkiest badly caught in nylon garden net.
I was immediately drawn to the constricted webbing about 1/5th down his body. There was a severely opened gash where the nylon had slipped under his scales. Being such thin nylon netting and this big boys strength, I imagine he thrashed around in an attempt to escape, exacerbating the situation and causing a deeper laceration, which had sat open and untreated overnight. It did not look good, I was immediately thinking of euthanizing, but first went quickly to work cutting him free to assess the wound more thoroughly while we contacted a local wildlife hospital.
While lethargic at first, his condition seemed to improve suddenly when freed from the netting so our hopes rose for a moment, however the wound was very severe. We decided to get him to surgery and see if he could be saved. It was a very uneasy drive, mental and mechanical gears both grinding as we rushed this big boy to the wildlife hospital, hoping for the best. Half an hour after arriving at the property, we pulled up at emergency admittance and dropped him off in triage, watching the vets and surgeons begin their assessment once his head was secured in a snake tube and anesthetized.
Unfortunately, the decision was made to euthanize this poor guy. The wound was deep into the peritoneum and was already going necrotic. Such an infection was most likely already affecting organ systems. The most humane option at that stage was a large dose of anesthetics and pentobarbitol, painlessly ending the suffering. An unfortunate end to this story, but lessons to be learnt. Garden netting and bird netting regularly trap wildlife instead of simply prohibiting access to our gardens as we’d wish. Its not uncommon to find bird, bat, lizard, snake and small mammal skeletons in old discarded netting, not to mention the thousands which are freed from such accidental snagging by dedicated wildlife workers every year. If you do use such netting then cutting off any excess bunched up netting, particularly at ground level. Small, simple changes like this around our house have the potential to save many lives and a lot of heartache.
Our sincerest thanks to the property owner for being so wildlife conscious in the face of a large elapid and to all who helped, particularly the wonderful vet staff who amaze me every day with their knowledge, passion and overall dedication to wildlife conservation. We can only ever try our very hardest and hope for the very best. Let’s hope we do better next time.
– Janne Torkkola
Your Brisbane Snake Catcher.