As Crocodile Dundee might say: “That’s not a snake, THIS is a snake!”
It certainly was for employees at WDS Engineering in Newcastle, who found a 20-year-old, two-metre-long red belly black snake hiding under their air-conditioning unit yesterday.
Even the snake catcher was shocked.
“When I saw it I took three steps back and was like ‘What the..!?”, said Geoff Delooze, a subcontractor for Newcastle and Hunter Animal Control when he saw the biggest red belly black snake in his entire career.
He estimated the snake must have been around 20 years old.
“The old blokes were telling me stories, like fishing stories,” he said.
Delooze said such large animals learn to stay out of the way of humans. Because 90% of Australians kill snakes when they find them – even though that’s illegal – the reptiles don’t often get the chance to live such a long life.
Delooze said red belly black snakes are actually excellent natural pest control.
“He can eat an eastern brown snake (the deadliest of them all) his own size… and that’s why I’m so against them being slaughtered,” he said. “I’m just glad he hasn’t had harm come to him. They’re like any other pet or animal… it has its place.”
Delooze will release the snake in a large pocket of bushland this evening.