In Australia, is it illegal to kill a poisonous snake?

So just how are you Aussies allowed to defend yourselves against a dangerous critter?
(this quote is taken from a totally unrelated thread in IMHO about questions asked during job interviews. )
But I’m not asking how your interviewer expects you to answer the question…I’m wondering how people live and apply for jobs in a country where there’s a snake waiting for you every time you park your car at work.

Australia has more dangerous wildlife than anyplace on earth…
How’s a bloke supposed to prove his manliness to the other guys at the barbecue if he isn’t allowed to kill something in self defence?
Other questions:
Why are dangerous snakes protected by law? I can understand it in a nature preserve, but why does the law apply to the company’s parking lot in a city?
What is the penalty under Australian law for killing a snake with a shovel? Is it different than killing a snake with rake?
And what happens if–god forbid— you do it the good ol’ American way : with a gun?

The only places that I’ve seen venomous snakes in Australia has been in zoos, where it probably is illegal to kill the animals with either spades or guns.

“Going out with a shovel to cut it’s head off” just because you hear a snake is out there isn’t self-defense.

In what possible sense is what you are describing “defence”? The snake is going about its business, you leave to go to a safe location, grab a weapon, return to the snake and kill it. That isn’t defence by even the most tortured defintion.

If, in some bizarre circumstances, you were able to defend yourself from a snake by killing it, then you would face no penalty, of course. But I can’t even imagine the circumstances in which killing a snake would be the optimal way defend against it.

Australian snakes are not, by and large, agressive. They will only chase people if they are provoked for a prolonged period of time. Since the only circumstance where I can even imagine that killing a snake would be a defence is when the snake is chasing you, you are basically talking about provoking a fight and then killing the defender.

More importantly, almost everybody ever bitten by a snake is trying to kill it or catch it. I’m sure that somebody, once upon a time, was bitten by a snake while going about their business, but I’ve never heard of a case. As such, trying to kill snake is not only non-defensive, it’s incredibly stupid and the optimal way of being bitten.

Since no such country exists, the question is moot. I’ve spent many years working in Australia, both rural and urban, and you’d be lucky to see one snake a month in the wild and one every 5 years in urban areas. There are plenty of snakes out there, but you don’t actually *see *them unless you start hunting for them.

Not really.

Sinking large quantities of piss, talking shite about your sexual exploits and then getting into a blue is the standard method.

Because all native tetrapods are protected by law. Snakes are just protected by the same umbrella laws that protect birds and mammals and lizards. It would have required a special effort not to protect dangerous snakes, and since that is unnecessary, it has never been done.

Because it’s native wildlife, and there is no reason why people *should *be allowed to kill them. Once again, it would have required a special effort not to protect snakes in cities, and since that is unnecessary, it has never been done.

It varies depending on circumstances and state, but best case scenario if you can prove that you killed it humanely you are looking at fine from in the range $200 - $1, 000. If the RSPCA can prove that you killed it in an inhumane manner, then you are looking at anything from a couple of grand to 5 years in prison. It’s exceeding rare for anyone tt serve jail time for animal cruelty, but it has happened.

Not if it’s a humane killing, no.

Exactly the same thing that would happen if you shot a snake in a parking lot in the US.

You would be charged with discharging a firearm in a built-up area and using a firearm in a manner likely to cause fear. You would receive a fine of a few hundred bucks and your firearms licence would be cancelled.

Which IMO is precisely what should happen. Anyone irresponsible enough to discharge a firearm in the middle of the city for no reason is not a fit person to own a firearm.

Snakes are indeed protected.

Despite the appearance we enjoy giving to foreigners, snakes are not rampant. If you are stupid you can run across one, but they don’t do things like frequent carparks as a rule. Mostly they are timid, and keep to themselves. Where I live snakes are endemic. The river that runs through the city has brownsnakes living in its banks, the seaside areas that have been preserved also host snakes, and I get them in my backyard. But I have only ever seen two snakes in the wild in my life.

Chasing after a snake with a shovel is probably the best way to get yourself bitten. Leave the critter alone and you will both be happy. Discharging a firearm in a suburban area is an offence.

In New South Wales killing a protected animal carries a penalty of up to 100 penalty units, or 6 months in prison. Currently a penalty unit is $110, so that is up to $11,000 fine.


Where I live it is legal to kill a snake (or magpie)

So you guys never get the local equivalent of rattlesnakes holing up in your barns or houses, or slithering into your sleeping bags, or poking at you from under rocks while you’re hiking? Or cottonmouths giving you a little surprise while swimming?

I’m shocked to learn that Texas appears to be far more dangerous than Australia in terms of snakes, then. Not that that’s all that dangerous in the first place, but still, in these parts it’s pretty well acknowledged: rattlesnake = get your shotgun.

The quote in the OP was from me.

The scenario was a contact centre in the northern suburbs of Melbourne where a lot of building work was going on nearby (Mill Park for those playing at home). They were clearing farm land to create a housing estate and lots of native critters were seeking new homes so they’d had a couple of instances where snakes had crawled into the underground carpark across the paddock.

I grew up in the bush and saw very few snakes and as someone said above they generally aren’t aggressive. Leave them alone they’ll leave you alone but step on one or mess around with one you’ll get bitten and better get to a hospital for a shot of anti venom quickly.

The “has attacked” bit of the law points to the one good reason for going out and killing a snake. If you have been bitten, it’s important to ID the snake so they can provide the right anti-venom. Sometimes the best way to do that is to bring the snake with you to the hospital.

If you see a snake in Australia, chances are it isn’t dangerous. If you are in an urban area it is probably a carpet python. If someone tells you there is a dangerous snake in car park, the most appropriate action is probably to go have a look and re-assure them that it is safe, then call a snake collector to come and get it.

Australia has lots of venomous snakes, and some very venomous ones. Most of them aren’t at all aggressive though. They are most dangerous in early spring, when they are still sluggish - they can’t get out of the way quickly enough, so people step on them.

You do hear stories of snakes slithering into sleeping bags - the story typically ends without a snake bite though.

With few exceptions, poisonous Australian snakes won’t climb, so unless your house is built at ground level that’s a non-issue. Even for low-set houses, venomous snakes entering is exceedingly rare. Tree snakes and pythons live in houses, not the elapids. In fact the non-bities probably serve to deter the bities, both because they consume the available prey and because they prey on other snakes. A climbing snake is going to be far more successful in a house than one tha tis confined to floor level.

I’ve had a tree snake in my swag once, but it would be an odd trick for an elapid. They tend to be mostly diurnal in cold weather, and in warm weather they have no need to enter a swag.

You certainly will see snakes scuttling under rocks and logs, but they won’t attack you, they’re trying to hide.

The species that frequent deep water aren’t venomous (or are rear-fanged). While the poisonous species all swim well enough, you would have to be extraordinarily unlucky to have one enter the water with you.

Most places are. Australia has some snakes with highly potent venom, but they are shy and they don’t climb much, if at all and they won’t move much on cold nights. That makes them far safer than aggressive, arboreal, nocturnal species with less potent venom.

Seriously? far more likely to be a brown snake than a carpet python


Just want to say the “brown snake” and the “carpet python” sound vaguely like some kind of code words for deviant sexual practices.

This was once true, but nowadays there are sensitive antigen tests that can ID the venom. They do suggest not washing the wound for this reason. Oz snakes leave venom on the skin, where it can be collected for testing. Trying to find and kill a snake that has bitten someone is a pretty good way of ending up with two people needing treatment.

A large number of people recover from snakebites with no antivenin being administered. Many snakebites are warnings where little to no venom is delivered. Administering antivenin in such circumstances is more dangerous that not. Antivenins are brutal things, and can cause a range of serious side effects. They will only be administered where there are clear symptoms of envenomation. Chasing after an already agitated snake with a view to killing it is likely to provoke an attack that is not a warning bite - but involves a full delivery of venom. So the person trying to find the snake for ID purposes is more likely to be needing the antivenin that the first person bitten.

We do find brownsnakes waking up are a bit cranky. They are hungry, it is spring, and they are in a bad mood. The joke is that they are after the three Fs. Food, a fight and a f*ck. Sounds like some people I know. (cf Blakes appraisal of how the average Oz bloke proves his masculinity.)

You give me a frigging cite for your statement that it’s more likely to be a carpet python.

Apart from the fact that the pythons are mainly nocturnal and the brown snakes are diurnal, meaning you’re a hell of a lot more likely to see a brown snake during the day than a python, I’ve never seen a carpet python in the wild in my life and I’ve seen a number of brown snakes.

This. You tend to know what you are talking about Blake but abruptly demanding cites from people contradicting your citeless assertions is a bit much IMHO.

For what it’s worth my experience matches stui’s. I’ve seen far more Browns and Blacks than Carpet snakes, living in urban and semi urban areas.

[Uncle Jimbo]
Look out, Ned, that snake is in such proximity it is making me reasonably anxious!
[/Uncle Jimbo]


I seem to recall one story I read set in the Australian Outback where the protagonist (a young boy) was supposed to carry what was basically a whip made of fencing wire for snake defence (one reference to such a thing I found suggested 4 strands of no. 12 wire plaited to 1m length) - flexible enough to straighten out when deployed but heavy enough to apply considerable force, and it lay flat on the ground over it’s entire length so accuracy was not required. A far better weapon than a shovel or a stick.

And just to be clear, the point was not to go out killing snakes, but in the context of the story, it was just more likely that the protagonist could end up in a situation where he might disturb a snake and have to defend himself if retreat was not possible.

Oh, and the author was a fair dinkum Aussie, so I don’t doubt that the whips really are (or were) a thing.

It wasn’t Blake that made the assertion. He just asked for the cite.

I presume Australian law is similar to that of the USA, where the general blanket laws protecting wildlife are not applicable where there is a demonstrable hazard to life, health, or property. For example, bat colonies can be exterminated from residential attics if the accumulation of their feces produces an objectionable odor.