PROFESSIONAL snake handler Geoff Delooze says he was hoping he could be treated for his embarrassment as much as snake venom after a close encounter with a red-bellied black snake sent him to hospital on Friday.
The experienced snake catcher suspected he may have been bitten by the metre-long snake as he attempted to bag it after getting the snake out from a wall of a Mayfield child care centre.
Handler bitten by black snake TweetFacebookMr Delooze was monitored by experts at Calvary Mater Hospital for several hours before it was safe to determine that no venom had got into his blood stream.
He is one of dozens of Hunter residents who have had close encounters with snakes as the temperatures continue to rise.
Cessnock Volunteer Rescue Association spokesman Chris Prince said the crew had been sent out at least eight times in two days, including one where a brown snake had bitten and killed a Maltese terrier.
It was one of several reported snake bites this week which have landed family pets in a vet clinic.
With each antivenom vial costing about $1000, saving man’s best friend could become a very costly exercise.
‘‘It has been crazy,’’ Mr Prince said.
‘‘And we are not just talking rural properties here, we are talking about snakes in the middle of Cessnock.’’
Mr Delooze said people can expect to continue having close encounters with snakes throughout the summer months.
He said anyone who comes across a snake should report it and get a professional catcher out to remove it safely.
‘‘It’s summer and it’s Australia, if you don’t like snakes I suggest you head to Ireland,’’ Mr Delooze said.