Snake handler says state's laws are too relaxed
Snake handler says state's laws are too relaxed

Snake bite fears over ‘outdated’ permit laws

ONE of the state's most experienced snake handlers has criticised Tasmania's "outdated" reptile permit laws, insisting that another venomous snake death was only a matter of time.

Reptile Rescue owner Chris Daly said Tasmanian herpetology permit holders were able to take venomous snakes from the wild and own up to six at a time with no training or experience.

"Let's not kid ourselves, these snakes are deadly," he said. "I do not think members of the community should own a snake unless they've been trained and signed off, otherwise there's going to be more deaths."

No other Australian state or territory allows the public to take venomous snakes from the wild, with most interstate permits only granted once the applicant can demonstrate first aid, snake handling competency and proof of secure enclosures.

NSW and NT law required all applications to be signed off by two experienced handlers confirming the applicant's experience and skills in handling venomous reptiles.

Mr Daly said both people and reptiles were put at risk by Tasmanian laws allowing untrained people to capture deadly snakes.


He said he has met owners who had taken wild lizards, only for the pets to die of insufficient care within two weeks.

"We're continually taking from the wild," he said.

Forty-five bites were treated in Tasmanian emergency departments in 2018.

A Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment spokeswoman said permit applications were assessed on their merits with "strict conditions" for animal wellbeing and public safety.

"DPIPWE is currently in the process of updating the Code of Practice for keeping of reptiles in captivity, which is being prepared in consultation with relevant stakeholders," she said.

Mr Daly said first aid training was necessary as even the most skilled handlers could sustain bites, including himself and his colleague Justin Kneebone, who left intensive care at the Royal Hobart Hospital on Sunday after a tiger snake bite.

A 30-year-old woman from the state's South remains in a stable condition at the RHH after reportedly being bitten by a snake last Wednesday.