Serpents stalk Aspendale Gardens

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Hissy fit: Aspendale Gardens resident Paul Munro at Smyth’s Drain where snakes have been regularly sighted. Picture: Gary Sissons

SOARING temperatures have some Aspendale Gardens residents worrying that snakes will invade their homes and gardens this summer.

The open Smyth’s Drain near Bowen Rd in the Royal Palms housing estate is a known haven for snakes and many residents have often seen snakes in the vicinity.

Residents took their concerns to then Kingston mayor John Ronke in 2012 and are frustrated that council has not acted to install snake mesh along the fenceline of nearby homes to stop snakes gaining access to properties.

Jackie Court resident Paul Munro said Cr Ronke promised to look at installing snake-proof fencing but residents had been left in the dark since initial discussions two years ago.

Mr Munro believes Cr Ronke is trying to slither away from his promises to the Aspendale Gardens residents.

“He made a commitment to install snake-proof fencing to all residences backing onto Smyth’s Drain and Bowen Parkway at council’s expense but we’ve heard nothing more about it despite repeated enquiries to chase progress,” Mr Munro said.

Council officers regularly visit the area to remove snakes that have entered the housing estate when residents call to report reptilian interlopers.

However, officers are only available to intervene during office business hours and this is not an ideal solution.

“Believe it or not, snakes don’t restrict their movements to just council business hours,” Mr Munro said.

Residents often have to call in commercial snake catchers to deal with the potentially dangerous creatures.

On Monday this week, another Jackie Court resident Mary Pullia arrived home from work to find a copperhead snake coiled up on her front doorstep.

Ms Pullia called Kingston Council but was advised there is only one officer authorised to catch snakes and he was on leave.

She said a snake was also removed from her property two years ago.

“I’m a bit worried about snakes entering homes during the summer now,” Ms Pullia said.

She said two young children live next door and she was concerned they may be at risk from snakes.

Ringwood-based Snake Busters were called out to remove the snake.

Raymond Hoser, also known as ‘The Snake Man’, said he often removed snakes from the Royal Palms housing estate.

“It’s not an unusual for copperheads and tiger snakes to be seen there because the area is full of them,” Mr Hoser said.

Mr Hoser said the copperhead at Ms Pullia’s house had moved into her garage by the time he arrived but he still managed to find and relocate the snake.

He advised anyone who sees a snake to “keep out of its way” and call an expert to deal with the situation.

Snakes seek shade when the weather is warmer since the cold-blooded reptiles prefer lower temperatures, Mr Hoser said.

When contacted by The News, Cr Ronke said he had spoken to council officers and bylaw officers who advised they were concerned about the cost involved in “snake proofing” the extensive fenceline abutting onto the Smyth’s Drain area near Bowen Rd.

“The snake mesh itself wouldn’t cost that much,” Cr Ronke said. “But officers are concerned it would set a precedent and costs could quickly escalate to thousands of dollars if snake-proof fencing had to be erected everywhere.”

Cr Ronke said control and management of snakes is outside council legislative responsibilities and he noted the land upon which Smyth’s Drain is located in Melbourne Water owned.

“The best I could do is use some of my ward funds to help,” he said.

Cr Ronke said he wondered why many residents had not installed their own snake mesh along their fencelines “if it a life or death situation as they claim”.

“I know if it was my family I’d go along and buy some mesh from Bunnings,” he said.

Mr Munro said he was worried someone could be bitten by a snake in the area this summer.

“We’ve had snakes on people’s properties and recently a snake was in someone’s home and they have young children,” he said.

When The News visited Jackie Court, some residents had installed their own snake mesh and anti-snake ‘pulse’ devices that send vibrations underneath the ground to deter intruders, but they noted professionally installed snake mesh would be a better option since it would extend deeper into the ground.

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