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Lantau snakes hunting for last feed before hibernation

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Increased sightings of snakes around Lantau are not surprising at this time of year, according to snake catcher William Sargent.

William, a Pui O resident, said snakes were preparing to hibernate and the warm weather had them out looking for food to see them through hibernation.

“There is a spike because they are more desperate – if they don’t get a good meal they won’t make it through the winter,” he said.

“They will take more risks and expose themselves more.”

He said the most common snakes on Lantau were venomous Chinese cobras, red-neck keelback and bamboo snakes, along with pythons which were not venomous.

William, who has not ever been bitten, was made Lantau’s official snake catcher this year. He uses a hook or snake tongs to catch snakes and then bags them up and takes them to Mui Wo police station.

He said most snakes wanted to avoid interaction with humans and bites usually occurred when humans disturbed snakes, such as trail runners running into their habitats in bush areas.

He said 95 per cent of bites came from bamboo snakes, which were ambush hunters so they didn’t tend to flee when disturbed, but instead attacked.

William said trying to “snake-proof” gardens with things such as sulphur would not deter snakes, but he said removing rubbish and keeping the garden fairly free of debris gave snakes less hiding places.

People needing snake removal should text him on 9470 8442 and include an image of the snake if possible.

Photograph of a Chinese cobra courtesy Wikimedia Images

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