Earlier in the summer, Lane Cove experienced some snake sightings. Some readers posed the question, what do you do when you see a snake? One of the people who responded to their questions was Alix Sylvester who is a real-life snake wrangle and wildlife warrior. Alix works with Sydney Wildlife.
We wanted to find out more about this fascinating Lane Cove Local so we asked Alix a few questions.
Sydney Wildlife (formally Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Services) is a registered charity that has been rescuing, rehabilitating, and releasing orphaned and injured wildlife for 20 years. We also do a lot of community education work, as it’s really important to educate the general public about what’s going on in their area. One of our long-term members goes to TAFE to teach migrants about our native animals, so our work is quite extensive.
How Did You Get you Involved?
I joined Sydney Wildlife back in 2014 by completing one of their weekend Rescue and Care training courses. I had been looking for a way to give back to my community and was very concerned about all the native animals being displaced due to increased developments in metropolitan areas. Sydney Wildlife is licensed by the National Parks and Wildlife Services, so in order to care for some specific animals, I was required to attend a day-long course. It was a great way to meet other people, and the content was fascinating. Over the past 4 years, I’ve completed training courses that allow me to care for baby possums, lizards, turtles, echidnas, bats, and venomous snakes. Once you start, you can’t stop!
How Many Hours A Week Do You Spend Volunteering?
One of the things I love about volunteering for Sydney Wildlife is that it’s very flexible and can easily fit around my busy life. When I was on a study break from university, I was probably spending a few hours every week. It’s easy to grab some native foliage when popping up to the shops, or heat up some milk for babies when I’m making a cup of tea, so I guess it’s hard to figure out. If I’m too busy to care for animals, I can head to our office at Lane Cove National Park to do an afternoon shift on the rescue hotline, or simply transport animals from the vet to suitable carers. There are no set times for our volunteers, we each just do what we can when we can.
Which Animal Do You Rescue the most in Lane Cove?
It would have to be either baby possum joeys and baby birds. We get hundreds of animals in care during the summer period which we refer to as “baby season”. A lot of the babies we get in care have been brought inside by pet cats, so we always encourage people to keep their kitties locked up at night. People are becoming more aware that they should check dead possums on the side of the road for babies, which is great as we save their lives, but it also means more animals coming into care. Bluetongue lizards come into care quite often too, as they often get picked up by dogs whilst basking in the sun.
What is the Most Common Snake seen in Lane Cove?
Diamond pythons! You’ll be pleased to know I’ve never rescued a venomous snake in Lane Cove. They’re definitely around the area, but prefer to stay in the bush. Diamond pythons are large and a bit confronting, but they’re quite placid and completely harmless. I always get calls for “brown snakes” in Lane Cove, but every time they turn out to b a golden crown snake (which are harmless). Out of almost 200 species of snakes in Australia, only about 25 are considered a danger to humans, so if you see a snake around, chances are it’s not a threat to you. Of course, it’s best to respect them and leave them be when sighted, as most of the time they’re just moving through. I absolutely detest the damage done by introduced mice, rats, and rabbits, so when I see a snake I think of it as native pest control.
What Animals are Protected in Lane Cove?
All species native to Australia are protected under Australian law. This includes, bats, snakes, possums, birds, and macropods (roos and wallabies). Although at times it can be frustrating to share our space with these creatures, they play a vital role in healthy ecosystems and are super important part of our environment.
What Should a Lane Cove Resident Do If they See an Injured Animal?
We are available 24/7 every day of the year by contacting 9413 4300, you’ll always speak to a person when you call us! If you find an injured animal:
- Take note of where you found it;
- Place the animal in a box or container, and leave in a dark and quiet place;
- Don’t offer any food or water, as mistakes can often be fatal;
- Call Sydney Wildlife on 9413 4300 or drop the animal off at any vet. Vets will always take native animals and will get in touch with carers in the area very quickly if you’re strapped for time.
The only exception to the above is snakes or bats, which require specially trained rescuers. In that case, call us straight away for advice.
How Long Have You Lived In Lane Cove?
I first lived in Lane Cove when I was about five years old until my teenage years. I was elsewhere for about a decade, but moved back here about 18 months ago with my partner, so about 15 years all up. It was a little strange to come back, as so much has changed over the past 20 years, but I love this area very much. Life is funny like that.
What Do You Like About Living in Lane Cove?
I absolutely love how leafy and green it is, I think it’s really important that the next generation grows up surrounded by our wonderful Australian bush. The sense of community is wonderful, it’s great to see so many locals are concerned about maintaining the environment for all the little ones out there.
What Do You Do When You Are Not Working with Sydney Wildlife?
I’m a science graduate and currently travel around the greater Sydney region teaching science to kids. I’ve done a bit of ecological research and am considering going back to do a Masters. My philosophy is to do what I love, and the rest will come. It’s turned out quite well, so I guess we’ll just have to see what the future holds!
To make a donation, learn more, or sign up to become a Sydney Wildlife Member, visit http://www.sydneywildlife.org.au/whats-involved.html
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