Seasonal Animal Dangers

Published on Wednesday, 25 September 2019 at 10:30:36 AM

With the arrival of spring, it is time to start preparing for seasonal animal dangers.

The following is information from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions. Please click the links in the headings for the full information sheets

Magpies - Swooping and Safety Issues [Link]

Magpies swoop to protect eggs and young from potential predators during the nesting season. They rely largely on intimidation to deter human intruders by flying low and fast, often clacking their bill as they pass overhead. The sound of their wings whistling past and the movement of air can be alarming, but is usually just a bluff.

Like dogs, magpies seem to sense fear and may capitalise on this by pressing on with harassing any perceived threat. Occasionally, a magpie will actually strike an intruder on the head with its bill. While such strikes are rare, magpies can inflict serious injuries. Information collected at hospital emergency departments has shown that the eye was the
most common target. Magpies are more likely to swoop cyclists and postal workers.

If you find a sick or injured magpie contact the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055 for information on registered wildlife rehabilitators and centres who can assist you with your enquiry.

Reducing the risk from swooping magpies
If you have problems with a swooping magpie, several avenues of action are open to you. Keep in mind that the birds swoop only during the nesting and rearing period (from August to October) and each bird generally only swoops for a few weeks during this time. If we can understand the catalysts and the patterns of magpie behaviour, we can greatly
reduce the risk.

Living safely with magpies
The following steps can be followed to avoid or reduce the impact of a swooping magpie:

  • Never deliberately provoke or harass a magpie. Throwing sticks or stones usually makes them more defensive. Magpies have good memories and they may continuously swoop a potential aggressor.
  • Avoid areas where magpies are known to swoop. Remember, magpie hostility lasts only a few weeks and they usually only defend a small area of about 100m radius around their nest.
  • Locate the bird and keep watching it when entering its territory. If it swoops, don’t crouch in fear or stop: move on quickly but don’t run.
  • If you are riding a bike make sure you wear a helmet, and dismount and walk through nesting magpie territory.
  • Wear a hat and sunglasses or carry an umbrella for protection. Magpies initially attack from behind but can swoop back around.
  • Adopt a confident stance as this can have a strong deterrent effect.

Remember that the magpies are just trying to protect their young. Learning to live alongside wildlife is an important
step towards building a better living environment, and observing and listening to magpies can be an enjoyable
Taking a bird or nest from the wild is illegal without a permit and while such actions may temporarily stop attacks, it is not uncommon for another nesting bird to move in. It is better to avoid the area or live with the swooping bird for six to eight weeks until the chicks learn to fly and the problem ceases.

Reptiles in and Around the House [Link]

If you come across blue-tongue lizards, bobtails and other harmless reptiles in your house, they can be carefully scooped into a box or bucket using a broom or gently picked up with a towel or protective gloves. Release the lizard either in your backyard (if found in the house) or neighbouring bushland reserve. If you are unsure, call the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055.

If you come across a snake in or around your house, do not approach or aggravate it in any way. Presume all snakes are venomous and remember that even non-venomous snakes have sharp teeth and can give a painful bite. Keep children and animals away. Keep an eye on where it is and contact the Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055 for advice and contact numbers for licenced reptile removers.

If you are bitten, call for medical help immediately – call 000 for an ambulance or get someone to take you to the nearest hospital emergency room. Remain calm and apply pressure to the area. If possible, try to identify the snake so that the correct anti-venom can be given. Learn about the correct treatment for snake bites using the St John Ambulance first aid fact sheet: 

If you are in an area where you may encounter a venomous snake, whether it is around your home or in parks or bushland, consider taking the following precautions:

  • Try to avoid areas with long grass, rushes and lots of undergrowth.
  • Keep a watchful eye on the ground where you are walking or working.
  • Walk and/or cycle on paths only, where you can see the ground.
  • Wear long-trousers and boots/enclosed footwear that preferably cover the ankles if bushwalking or working in bushland and long-grassed areas.

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