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NSW farmers warned of flooding induced snake plague

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Farmers in flooded parts of the nation are warning of a booming snake plague — and one four-legged companion has fallen victim.

Pippi, the sausage dog of racing journalist Jo McKinnon, narrowly escaped peril at the fangs of a king brown.

“She’s pulled through,” Ms McKinnon told friends on social media after a series of concerning pictures.

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One showed Pippi lying next to the massive snake.

“They’re everywhere, Be careful,” she warned.

She was lucky to have thought quickly enough to snap a picture of the snake so vets in Quirindi — on the North West Slopes region of New South Wales — could have a dose of antivenin ready for Pippi.

She later told The Daily Telegraph that her pooch had fully recovered.

“Pippi made a full recovery, but it’s only a matter of time, really, because there are snakes everywhere. It’s a full-blown plague,” she said.

Sarah Thompson from the NSW Farmers Rural Affairs Committee reports that snakes had boomed amid recent flooding on the state’s plains.

“Just yesterday, one of our members said she saw three black snakes near her place in a really short space of time, and it’s been like this for a while. They’re just trying to escape the water like we all are,” she said.

“It’s a worry because people with dogs or who are going out to move stranded livestock are at a higher risk of being bitten.”

Worryingly she said the timing coincided with the reduced capacity of local veterinarian services due to the recent flooding.

“This is happening everywhere. We’ve heard recently about livestock being lost to snakes because some farms are more like islands than paddocks, and they can’t get to a vet,” she said.

It also comes amid naturally increased snake activity during summer.

The Australian Reptile Park, Australia, reports 3000 snake bites each year, about 10 per cent of which require antivenin.

People in flooded areas experiencing increased snake activity are encouraged to keep lawns short and avoid piling up household items.

But Mrs Thompson said for flood-affected rural communities, vigilance was key.

“Everyone’s trying to stay dry, and the snakes are no exception,” she said.

“We know snakes aren’t generally trying to hurt us or our animals, but coming closer together because of flooding increases the risk of an attack for humans and animals.

“People just need to use some common sense, keep an eye out and be extra careful.”

Tony Davis, a Wagga Wagga-based snake catcher affectionately known locally as “The Snakeman”, told sightings and jobs did spike with floodwater levels in the NSW Riverina Area – but there was something else afoot.

He said it was simply a case of people seeing snakes where they don’t usually see them.

And he said the fact the growing snake population is “big and fat”, is a good thing.

“They have plenty of their two favourite foods – mice and frogs – and they’re really thriving on it,” he explained.

“Once they’ve had a feed, they just want to lie down and sleep it off – so they’re actually not moving around as much.

“Snakes are lazy things. So if he’s got a good food source at his front doorstep, he’s got no need to move on.”

Mr Davis said as floodwater levels disappear, so too will some of the snake sightings.

“The water levels will drop down, and they’ll make their way back to where they used to come from.”

He said the call outs were mainly for brown and red-bellied black snakes.

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