Guest blog. Will from Hong Kong Snakes facebook page.
People have been seeing quite a few snakes - and in particular pythons - recently, so Will came up with this commentary (all python pics by me):
I think that makes for a perfect time to recap some thoughts about human/Python conflict. The most responsible way you can deal with snakes (or most things) is to educate yourselves. Stick to scientific/reputable sources as most media tends to embellish pieces about snakes. Hopefully below info will help with some basic facts about Burmese Pythons - especially those new to the group.
Burmese Python (Python bivittatus)
Burmese Pythons are Hong Kong's longest/heaviest snake. The most common size for large pythons (I've moved) is around 10ft-12ft / 15kg-25kg but can max out at 14.5ft/40kg (even heavier if digesting a large meal). We (HK) have a healthy population, which is not the case in many parts of its natural range.
They DO NOT prey on humans and there are no records of a single human death in Hong Kong. The few cases of pythons eating people (outside of HK) are NOT Burmese Pythons. Snakes are defensive creatures, however there are always outliers in nature. I am aware of less than half a dozen cases whereby someone has been bitten in the wild (in HK) by a Python. The injuries have been mostly mild (worst outcome I've heard of was 'Carl' in Sai Kung who had some deep cuts on his fingers trying to prize open the snakes mouth with his hands.This was incredibly unusual (the snake was later found to be terminally ill).
Dogs rarely get eaten (I've never moved a confirmed case of a Python having eaten a dog) but cats get eaten regularly (many of the ones I move have just eaten a cat).
Since 2010, a programme was introduced to relocate 'problem/captured' pythons via Kadoorie Farm back into the wild (previous to this they were taken to China for release). There have been over 1600 (approx 130 - 200 per year) Pythons processed at Kadoorie. Government/Police snake catchers (such as myself) are called by the police to capture snakes (that have been reported by the public), then passed to the police, who then bring them to Kadoorie Farm. All Pythons are then tagged with a chip and released.
photo by jack ferguson.
Calling the Police...
If you hike in the country park, I can guarantee you, that you will at some point walked close by a large Python without you knowing. Moving a Python away from your garden (good chance its lived in the area for years) will likely make room for a new snake to move in. A new snake may not be as good at avoiding humans. Many studies suggest Pythons (like most snakes) DO NOT do well with relocation. Pythons are territorial (this means that they have an area they roam). They do not 'defend their territory'.
Kadoorie Farm's official advice...
Think twice before calling 999 to deal with snake conflict issues. Is the snake really causing a threat? If you back off, wait a while and give the snake space it may solve the immediate conflict itself by moving away
Please do not attack any snake - this may cause the snake to instinctively defend itself.
Check out this this excellent piece by Kadoorie Farm.
Let us know if you have any questions/concerns. Thanks. And thank you Will. and do check out Hong Kong Snakes Facebook page and sign up. Its the best FB page in HK by a mile! Well, er, after Wildcreatures, of course.