Jake Stinson is Bundaberg’s newest and youngest snake catcher, and he's passionate about all types of animals.
The 19-year-old grew up in Canberra before moving to Bundaberg in 2018 and starting his own business, Jakes Reptile Relocations.
Snake catcher Jake said he became interested in animals, and reptiles in particular, at a young age.
“I’ve always loved snakes and been going along to snake calls with some of the local snake catchers back in Canberra, Batemans bay and now in Bundaberg,” Jake said.
“I’ve been snake catching officially as of this year, but I’ve been loving my snakes for the past five or six years.
“Once you hold your first python and see that they’re a really beautiful animal you get a real appreciation for them.”
That appreciation has grown into a snake-catching business based in Bundaberg.
As snake season ramps up, so too has the number of call-outs and in his first season Jake has been called out to retrieve goannas, tree snakes, pythons, and the odd red-bellied black snake.
“Pretty much as soon as I got the business up and running, from that week onwards it was five calls a week and that’s increased,” he said.
“Now that it's warmer the snakes have got more energy and are looking for a mate to reproduce so it’s very common to find them engaging in male combat and you could find upwards of three snakes in one roof.”
A case of mistaken identity
Snake catcher Jake said a big part of the role was educating people about snakes and their role in the ecosystem.
He told Bundaberg Now that not every snake is dangerous and many snakes are often wrongly identified as juvenile brown snakes.
“There are a lot of snakes that might look like a dangerous snake so your whipsnakes, keelbacks are very commonly misidentified as brown snakes and usually end up getting killed,” he said.
“I really like to be able to have a conversation with people that are quite scared of snakes about the different species, how some are actually quite good to have around.
“Snakes are actually a really important part of our ecosystem in that they’re doing the job of pest management and looking after rodent numbers.”
Removal and relocation
While many snakes are non-venomous, Jake said a healthy caution around snakes was important.
He said the best advice was to leave them alone, and that if they need removal to call a licensed snake catcher.
“No snake is dangerous if you leave it alone,” Jake said.
“It’s likely most snakes will pass through, but if they are inside the house or shed, or just hanging around give a snake catcher a call.
“Get someone licensed or a professional who knows what they’re doing.
“Most of the time when someone gets bitten is when they’re trying to catch or kill the snake so leave it to the ones who know how to do it.”
Jake said there were now three snake catchers in Bundaberg, meaning there will always be someone available to help.
“We’ve got Kav’s Wildlife Services and Josh from Scaly Mates here too, so it’s really good to have three catchers working with each other making sure Bundaberg’s kept safe.”