Man who cuddles pythons wants sympathy for slithery snakes
A MAN who has been known to accept kisses and cuddles from snakes is determined to keep residents safe while preserving 'misunderstood' reptiles on the Southern Downs.
Drew Godfrey has been fascinated by snakes and other dangerous animals ever since he was a child.
But learning more about reptile behaviour and their importance to the ecosystem has made him sympathetic towards the slithery creatures.
"I just get really disappointed about the fact that we live in Australia, the country of snakes, but we don't get brought up to understand them,” he said.
"Instead we get brought up to fear them.”
Mr Godfrey has qualifications in venomous snake husbandry and handling and is studying wildlife ecology at Southern Cross University.
Starting a new business as a snake catcher, he hopes to change attitudes towards reptiles among Southern Downs residents.
"People just think they are monsters and out to attack you and that they chase you but even the most dangerous snakes, they don't want to fight,” he said.
"Even an eastern brown will rear up and show you it is dangerous before it tries to bite. Biting is only ever a last resort.”
Since moving to the Southern Downs earlier this year, Mr Godfrey said everyone he met had a snake story to tell.
But hearing how many residents had killed snakes, even "harmless” ones, made him sad.
"I understand that people want to protect their pets and kids but I feel disappointed in the overall mentality of society,” he said.
"One of our pet pythons will cuddle up to you and kiss your on the face and loves being patted, they can actually be affectionate if you give them the chance.”
With snake season upon us, Mr Godfrey hopes to help the community stay safe while being respectful to snakes, which play an important role in the ecosystem.
"They are in the middle of the food chain, so they prey on a lot of animals and are a prey item for a lot of animals as well.” he said.
"If you take snakes out of the environment it disrupts the species composition.”
Mr Godfrey said if you see a snake in the wild the best thing to do it to stay very still and let the snake move on. If the snake doesn't move, back away slowly and calmly.
If you or someone you know is bitten by a snake, always ring 000.
Mr Godfrey is a professional snake catcher and reptile handler. You can contact him on 0458 491 123.