Rarely seen Jan’s desert banded snake spotted in City Beach

Volunteer reptile removalist Colin Slattery at City Beach.
Volunteer reptile removalist Colin Slattery at City Beach.

A SMALL, rarely-seen striped snake has been spotted in the suburbs.

Floreat resident Colin Slattery is a volunteer reptile removalist when not working in the radiography department at Fiona Stanley Hospital, and was recently called to a home in City Beach.

He has been catching and releasing snakes for 13 years.

He trained up at Argyle Diamond Mine and his first catch was a three metre king brown.

The City Beach snake sighting came some years after a similar one was found at the same home.

“Five years ago, I had a call from a lady saying she had a little snake; by the time I got there, it was gone,” Mr Slattery said.

The Jan’s desert banded snake found in a City Beach backyard.

But on March 16, Mr Slattery finally got to lay eyes on the tiny specimen.

“There must have been a family in the garden; it was a 10cm baby,” he said.

The snake in question was a Jan’s desert banded snake.

“It’s rare to see them; they usually swim under the sand dunes and only come up for prey, but this one was beside [the resident’s] pool,”Mr Slattery said.

“It wasn’t a tiger snake; when they’re that brightly banded, it’s a Jan’s desert banded snake.”

WA Museum terrestrial vertebrates curator Dr Paul Doughty confirmed it was uncommon to see the snakes, which grow to around 30 centimetres.

“They spend a considerable time underground or with just their head poking out of the sand waiting to ambush an unsuspecting lizard,” he said.

“It’s very unusual to see one by a pool as this species does not swim, so it must have wandered by the pool by accident.”

Mr Slattery said it was fine to leave the snakes be in the garden, and Dr Doughty said it was best not to move them, just leave them to crawl away to shelter.

“They do have a bite that could cause some swelling if the small mouth got you; for example in the webbing of fingers, it would feel like a bee sting,” Dr Doughty said.

“However they’re an unaggressive species that rarely bites, they just try to wriggle away.”

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