COVID-19 Lockdown Leading to Boom in Deadly Snake Encounters, Expert Warns

Australia's COVID-19 lockdowns are leading to a surge in close encounters with deadly snakes, an expert has warned.

Raymond Hoser, who runs Snakebusters in Melbourne, the capital of Victoria, said callouts have increased this weekend as warmer weather brought snakes out of hibernation. He responded to tiger snake calls across seven suburbs on Saturday.

"Because people are at home and they're not out and about... we've got a perfect storm where people will see more snakes," he told the Australian Associated Press.

"If you see a snake don't go near it. Nine times out of 10 if they're in your garden they're passing through. If you get bitten, bandage on your arm, straight to hospital. Without treatment you're likely to die. With treatment, you probably won't die."

Hoser, who refers to himself as "Snake Man," predicts he could be facing between 20 and 30 snake callouts a day by October, as government-ordered restrictions continue in an attempt to limit the spread of novel coronavirus-linked respiratory disease.

"Sun is out and so are the snakes!" Hoser tweeted earlier this week, sharing a picture of himself smiling while holding a snake firmly in his hands.

On August 2, the Victorian Government announced "stage 4" restrictions, which included curfews that go into effect between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m. People are only allowed to leave their homes for "work, essential health, care or safety reasons."

The restrictions are expected to last until September 13. In the latest statistics, released August 30, officials confirmed there have been 19,015 COVID-19 cases total in Victoria state, with 114 new cases in the past 24 hours.

"Within Victoria, 40 of the new cases are linked to outbreaks or complex cases and 74 are under investigation. There have been 11 new deaths from COVID-19 reported since yesterday," the government said in a media release published today.

As a whole, Australia is home to roughly 140 species of land snake. While 100 are venomous, only 23 are likely to inflict fatal injuries. The most dangerous species include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder and the king brown.

Earlier this month, Hoser told the Daily Mail he first saw a rise in callout requests in March, as the first round of COVID-19 lockdowns came into effect.

He said as people spend more time at their homes, snakes resting underground will be disturbed."More snake calls [will occur due to lockdown], that is a certainty."

eastern brown snake
This photo taken on September 25, 2012 shows a deadly Australia eastern brown snake -- which has enough venom to kill 20 adults with a single bite -- in the Sydney suburb of Terrey Hills. WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty