Snake bites up in eastern Australia

March 20, 2013 at 1:13 AM

SYDNEY, March 20 (UPI) -- New housing built in what had been bushland and widespread flooding led to a record number of snake bites in eastern Australia, an expert says.

John Mostyn, manager of venom at the Australian Reptile Park in Somersby, said red-bellied black snakes and brown snakes appeared to be responsible for most of the damage, The Daily Telegraph reported. The red-bellied black snake, common in urban areas in eastern Australia, is less venomous than many of the country's snakes, while brown snakes are among the country's most deadly.

New South Wales Ambulance reported responding to 136 snake bites in the past spring and summer, up from 82 in 2010-2011.

"Most new housing estates are created in areas of bush which are natural homes to snakes. When snakes come out of hibernation in spring they find themselves right near homes and people," Mostyn said.

"We also had lots of heavy rain and floods in many parts of NSW and snakes will head for higher ground when it floods. That higher ground is often where homes are built, or the higher ground is the home itself."

Mostyn told the Australian Broadcasting Corp. there were five snake bite deaths across the country in the past year, while the usual number is about two.

Topics: Snakes
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