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Australia has around 140 species of land snake, and 32 recorded species of sea snakes.

Some 100 Australian snakes are venomous, although only 12 are likely to inflict a wound that could kill you.

The most dangerous snakes belong to the front-fanged group, which in New South Wales include the tiger snake, brown snake, death adder, mulga or king brown snake and a few species of sea snake.

Australia's other snakes are the solid-toothed non-venomous snakes (such as pythons, blind snakes and file snakes) and venomous rear-fanged snakes (such as the brown tree snake and mangrove snakes). 

For details on snake removal please refer to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website.

Living with snakes

Snakes are not naturally aggressive and always prefer to retreat. They will only attack humans if hurt or provoked and most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. If you come across a snake in the bush, just calmly walk the other way.

If you find a snake in your home or garden and would like it removed, contact your nearest snake catcher on the reptile handler list.

Who can remove a snake from my garden or house?

A licensed snake catcher can catch and relocate a snake for a fee. All snakes are protected in NSW and killing one can be considered an offence. Only licensed people are allowed to catch or keep snakes.

Sydney Area Licensed Reptile Handlers

Area of operation

Licensee name

Contact number

Sydney Area

Charles Acheson

0417 776 226

Sydney Area

Joachim Matthews

0439 384 970

Sydney Area

Kane Durrant/Rachael Durrant

0414 089 920

Sydney Area

Ravi Singh

0425 280 184

Sydney Area 

Sean Cade

0410 761 575

Sydney Metro

Benjamin Harvey

0414 200 273


Locate a snake catcher

Do not go near the snake but from a safe distance monitor its movement so you can advise of its location when assistance arrives. Do not threaten, disturb, annoy or throw anything at the snake.

Find your nearest snake catcher on the reptile handler list.

For more information, contact Environment Line by phone: 1300 361 967 or email:

Wildlife organisations

Most wildlife organisations do not catch snakes unless they are injured or there is a serious threat to human health and safety. However, if you do not have a licensed snake catcher in your area they may be able to assist, and can suggest ways to encourage the snake to move away.

Contact your local wildlife rescue group for help

How to deter snakes

You can make your garden less attractive to snakes by keeping shrubs trimmed, lawns mowed and the garden generally tidy. Remove any piles of rubble, wood, roof sheeting or leaf clippings where snakes can shelter.

Snakes may lay eggs in compost heaps and garbage piles. Food sources such as rodents, frogs or birds encourage them to stay, so snake-proof any refuse bins, ponds and aviaries with fine mesh.

If snakes are residing under your home, consider blocking their access after they have been removed.

Tip: Snakes hear through vibration, so when mowing the lawn, mow away from the house to avoid directing snakes towards it.

How can I identify a snake? 

Native snakes are protected in NSW by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, this means it is illegal to harm them without an authority or defence under the legislation.

If you find a snake you should generally not approach it, snakes are not naturally aggressive and always prefer to retreat. They will only attack humans if hurt or provoked and most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. If you are interested in learning more about snakes The Australian Museum has some detailed information about identification online, or you can contact their Object and species identification team.

If you are concerned about a snake on your property would like advice or to have it removed, you can contact your nearest licensed snake catcher on the reptile handler list or a licensed animal rehabilitation group.

How snakes see, smell and hear 

Snakes have no eyelids and cannot close their eyes. Their eyes are protected by a clear scale, which is part of their skin and functions like spectacles. Many snakes have excellent eyesight, particularly some of the daytime predators (such as whip snakes), and most have good eyesight, at least over short distances.

However, in most snakes the sense of smell is more vital. A snake's main organ of smell is its forked tongue, which it flicks in and out of its mouth. The tongue picks up scent particles from the air and any objects it touches and transfers them to two depressions in the roof of the mouth. These depressions are unique to reptiles and detect scents transferred to them from the tongue. A snake's nostrils are only used for breathing.

Snakes do not have outer ears. Instead, they hear with inner ears, which pick up vibrations from the ground through the head and belly scales. Some nocturnal snakes, such as pythons, also have heat sensory pits to help them locate the 'warm' birds and animals they prey on.

How they move 

Not having legs, snakes use waves of muscle contractions along their bodies to move. Movement is helped by the belly scales, which catch on any uneven surface. If the ground is very smooth, snakes find it difficult to move in any direction at all.

Tree-living snakes, such as pythons, 'shuffle' along horizontal branches in muscular waves which pass along their bodies.

Most snakes are good swimmers, and sea snakes have paddle-shaped tails which give them added propulsion in the water.

Sloughing - shedding their skin 

A snake sheds its skin between one and 4 times a year. It does this by rubbing the front of its head on a rough surface until the skin splits. The snake then slowly sloughs out of the skin, turning it inside out as it does so.

In all snakes, the new skin (with the same colours and patterns as the old) is underneath and, when shed, the old skin is almost transparent.

When a snake is about to slough, the scale forming the spectacle over its eye will become 'milky', affecting its vision.

How they control their body temperature 

Snakes are reptiles, which means they are ectothermic: they get their body heat from external sources.

Endothermic animals, such as mammals and birds, regulate their body temperature internally. A snake's body temperature – and so its level of activity – is controlled by the temperature of the air and the ground. It will try to maximise body heat by basking in the sun or lying on or near warm surfaces such as night-time roads or even, on occasion, household water heaters.

In cold areas of the state, snakes hibernate during winter. However, in the more temperate climate along the coast they shelter in rock crevices and logs during cold weather and come out on warm days to soak up the heat of the sun.

During cold weather, snakes are less active and therefore hunt less. In the winter their metabolisms slow down, and they use up body fat which has been stored up during the warmer months of the year.

How they feed 

Catching and feeding is a very specialised activity. Snakes have no claws to grab, tear or hold their food and can’t chew because their teeth and hinged jaws aren’t designed for that purpose.

Most venomous snakes grab their prey by striking suddenly and biting while they inject venom into the victim. Some species will often strike 3 or 4 times. The toxins produced by the venomous snakes act to paralyse the victim so that it dies or is unable to move before the snake tries to eat it. These toxins also assist the snake's digestive processes, beginning by breaking down the victim's blood and other tissues.

Pythons have no venom and use their strong bodies to immobilise their victims. Having first grabbed the prey with its mouth, a python wraps its body coils tightly around the victim. As the coils are progressively tightened, the prey is suffocated.

Other snakes grab their prey in their mouth and start swallowing immediately so the animal is eaten alive. The teeth in these snakes are arranged to resist escape of an animal once grabbed in the mouth. Sometimes both venom and constriction are used to kill and hold the prey.

A snake can dislocate its upper and lower jaws and separate the two sections of its lower jaw. This allows it to move each jaw independently and to spread open its head and throat to swallow prey much larger than the usual diameter of its mouth.

Digestion takes place in the stomach, with the aid of strong digestive juices. Unlike endothermic animals, a snake's food digestion rate is influenced by external temperatures.

How they breed 

Some snakes reproduce and give birth to live offspring, while others lay eggs.

Most egg-laying snakes don’t look after their eggs before hatching. Some deposit them in warm, rotting vegetation to incubate the eggs for 10 to 14 weeks.

Pythons 'incubate' and protect their eggs by coiling their bodies around the eggs, almost continuously, until they hatch. They can control temperature to a certain degree by shivering.

Young snakes fend for themselves from birth. Depending on the species, each parent snake may produce between 10 and 100 young in one breeding season. Many young are lost to predators such as birds, lizards and other snakes.

Populations in decline

Snakes play an important role in many different types of ecosystems. However, their numbers are generally declining.

Probable reasons for the decline include:

  • removal of snake habitat through clearing land for agriculture or urban development
  • more frequent bushfires
  • people taking bush rock (an important source of shelter for snakes) from the bush for gardens
  • introduced predators such as foxes, dogs and cats
  • snakes being run over on roads
  • the indiscriminate killing of snakes by people who fear or dislike them. Many harmless snakes, and even legless lizards, are killed unnecessarily in this way.

A number of snake species have been listed as threatened in NSW.

Find out more about snakes

Snakes fact sheet

Are all snakes dangerous? Snakes are not naturally aggressive and prefer to retreat. They will only attack humans if hurt or provoked - most bites occur when people try to kill or capture snakes. As snakes are a sign of a healthy ecosystem it can be wiser to overcome your fears instead.

For details on snake removal please refer to the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website