An earlier than usual start to snake season has had tragic consequences for some local pet owners, with dozens of bites and several animal deaths reported in the last month.
Unseasonally warm weather is bringing the reptiles out of their winter hybernation much sooner than expected, prompting warnings for humans to stay alert.
Geelong snake catcher Darren Keiller has been called out to multiple incidents in recent weeks.
“There’s been about 20 in the last month,” Mr Keiller said.
“On Sunday there were two cats bitten, one of which died.
“There was also a dog bitten down at Thirteenth Beach that also died.”
The corridor between Geelong and Wyndham has one of the highest concentrations of tiger snakes in the world.
Mr Keiller said snakes usually begin to appear at the start of spring, but they have been active in the Geelong region since late winter.
“Normally we say September is the start of snake season (but) here in Geelong we’ve had it for the last month (that) snakes have been coming out and showing their faces.”
Experts say the best way to protect animals from snakes is to keep them indoors whenever possible, and to avoid walking them in bushland.
Gardens should be kept free of clutter, especialy piles of wood, branches or cuttings.
Dogs should never be walked off-lead in open areas bounded by bush or grassland, national parks and near bushland or waterways, and should be prevented from sniffing in long grass.
Snake bite wounds are difficult to detect in animals so owners are encouraged to learn the signs that suggest a pet has been envenomated.