Too close to home: reserve’s tall grass shelters snakes

TALL GRASS: Barry Priest, with his retired greyhound Rosie, wants to see long grass bordering residential properties cut down. Photo: DECLAN RURENGA 0109drgrass1

TALL GRASS: Barry Priest, with his retired greyhound Rosie, wants to see long grass bordering residential properties cut down. Photo: DECLAN RURENGA 0109drgrass1

Barry Priest is calling on Orange City Council to do more to keep grass on their land under control after a snake slithered out of a reserve on to his property.

Mr Priest’s Heritage Close property borders a reserve and he said he telephoned council numerous times requesting they mow the grass, which has measured up to two metres high.

The north Orange resident was far from surprised on Monday when he saw his retired greyhound swinging a copperhead snake around like a chew toy.

“I was working on the roof, I came around the corner and the dog was swinging the snake around,” he said.

The dog managed to escape injury, however the same couldn’t be said for the snake, which Mr Priest humanely put down.

He said neighbours had reported seeing snakes moving in and out of the reserve’s long grass.

Mr Priest said council workers previously used a tractor and slasher – in addition to a ride-on mower – to maintain the reserve’s grass.

But in recent months he felt compelled to take matters into his own hands, mowing the section closest to his property himself.

Council spokesman Nick Redmond said the city’s reserves are usually mowed every three to four weeks.

“The fence lines are normally sprayed over the winter period, but this didn’t happen with the wet winter that was experienced, which means the grass on the fence lines is longer than usual,” he said.

Mr Redmond maintained council’s protocol for mowing and maintaining the 40 public spaces under their jurisdiction was based on the public’s needs.

“The mowing routine depends on factors such as the number of people that regularly use them,” he said.

“A place like Cook Park or Robertson Park is mowed more often than a reserve alongside a residential area. 

“Some residents assist council by mowing the area directly behind or next to their property. This is similar to residents maintaining the grass or nature strip in front of their house.”

Mr Redmond urged any members of the community to contact council if there was a problem. 

“Requests for mowing can be sent to council through customer service either by phone or email and will be responded to in line with other priorities,” he said.

Orange Snake Service’s Jake Hansen is a licensed snake-catcher who relocates an average of 10 wild snakes each week

He said the safest option for residents when they see a snake was to get children and pets indoors, keep an eye on the reptile and call a snake professional.

“Snakes feel more secure in long grass. They’ll stick to areas where there’s shelter, food and water,” he said.

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