VK SOTA Wombat - close encounter

Hi all

An iconic Australian marsupial, the Wombat.
On a track to VK2/SW-026, ‘Yankee’ Ned Hill which I qualified with 6 USA chasers.

Andrew, VK1NAM

In reply to VK1NAM:
Heh. On a geocaching hike I once met an echidna, but I’ve only ever seen a wombat in a zoo. It was asleep, but it looked like quite a solid bruiser…

In reply to VK1NAM:

Taipan next? …hopefully not.

In reply to G3CWI:

M0HGY would probably order it next time he’s in there.

In reply to M1EYP:

What a Taipan? Most snakes do a runner (slither?) when the hear you approaching. But there’s one VK snake that’s really aggressive. Is that the Taipan or the King Brown?


In reply to MM0FMF:
I’ve heard stories about Taipans being quite aggresive. In Western Australia there’s a Tiger snake that apparently gets quite aggressive. The other one you have to watch out for there is the Dugite (a relative of the King Brown). The other other one…

Oh, and I gather they’re all Protected Species, too. :wink:

73, Rick M0LEP

In reply to M0LEP:
Have you heard the stories of ‘Hoop Snakes’? Legend has it Hoop snakes roll down hills to attack their pray. As the Hoop snake is approaching it’s victim it rolls out of the ‘hoop’ for a strike.

Legend also suggests the Hoop snake works in tandem with Drop Bears. I will be sure to take the picture if I see one.

Andrew, VK1NAM

In reply to MM0FMF:

Most VK snakes only bite if you step on them or start poking sticks at them. Mostly they slide away and you may not even be aware of the encounter.

Several species of snake in VK will attack if you get within a few metres of their “nest” around the mating period. I have had this sort of encounter with tiger snakes. Unless you are within 2 m it’s unlikely they will bite you before you are aware of their presence. Unless you step on one they will rise up, hiss a bit and only if you don’t move back, strike. In some cases they might come after you but they travel at no more than 10 km/h so you can easily retreat.

(Andrew did not mention that the hoop snake gets it’s name from the habit of holding the tip of its tail in its mouth to make a hoop and roll after its victim and has apparently reached speeds of 60 km/h down hill. The bite must be fatal as there are no records of anyone surviving a hoop snake biting attack)

The Taipan averages > 2 m length and likes to hide in the top of sugar cane bushes etc. Many cane cutters died when the snake struck, angry at having its little home disturbed at harvest time. Until recently a bite was fatal often within an hour - antivenom serum now available. It subsequently became regular practice to burn cane fields before harvesting, removing the snakes and their food sources. Now harvesting is done by machinery so if you find scales in your sugar bowl don’t eat them. These snakes have mostly retreated to the tropical bush. In 1950, Kevin Budden, an amateur herpetologist, was one of the first people to capture a taipan alive, although he was bitten in the process and died the next day.

The desert adders are nasty in that they lie on cleared areas like paths, perfectly blended with the ground and inflict a fatal bite when trodden on. They don’t move when you approach relying on their camouflage to protect them.

It’s not just the venomous snakes. In our north we have pythons that love goats and other small animals. (Small SOTA activators with over 1,000 points could be at risk.)

However the chances of a SOTA activator suffering a fatal snake bite is much much less than the chance of being badly injured or killed in the drive to and from an activation.

Snakes are protected. If one bites you you can kill it for ID purposes but usually an attempt to do that that results in more bites.

So drive carefully and watch your step in the bush.


In reply to AX3AFW:
Great job of keeping all those northern hemisphere SOTA activators off our summits here Ron. That should really keep them out of our bush… Hi. For us that live here we have learnt how to co-exist with all the nasty creatures here, suffice to say if you leave them alone they will probably leave you alone (but not always). I grew up on a farm and in summer we would see copper head snakes and yellow bellied black snakes regularly. The copper head snakes could be quite aggressive if you startled them, but mostly they would get out of your way rather than chase you. In summer it is wise to make a bit of noise by tramping through the bush rather than creeping, as the snakes will feel the vibrations and know someone is approaching and probably move off and hide. Step on top of logs rather than step over logs as the may be a sleeping snake on the other side of the log that you cannot see from the side you are on. Wearing gaiters on your lower legs and sturdy boots is also advisable out in the bush.
As for spiders, we have lots of them as well, but most are harmless.

So with that, please come and enjoy our Australian summits, but be careful out there.

In reply to AX3AFW:

Snakes are protected. If one bites you you can kill it for ID
purposes but usually an attempt to do that that results in more bites.

Lest any foreigners come here and get bitten, it is illegal to kill a (protected) snake for any reason in Australia. As medical staff are rarely herpetologists and visual ID of snakes is difficult, they rely on venom samples for ID, not the snake itself. 80% of snake bites in Australia occur when the person bitten was trying to kill the snake. Let the snake enjoy its small victory :slight_smile:

If it bites you, current first aid guidelines say to apply a pressure immobilisation bandage, marking the site of the bite on the skin and on any bandages if possible[1], and get thee to hospital. The ER department will take samples from the bite site and supply antivenom as appropriate once the type of snake venom is identified. If you bring a dead snake into ER, it’s likely to just end up in the biohazard bin once the medical staff replace their underwear.


[1] Marking the bite site allows the medical staff to examine the site without removing the bandage, which would allow venom to flow through the lymphatic system.

In reply to VK3ARR:

From cute wombats to deadly snakes and ER. Interesting how we focus more on the dangerous critters. I hope to activate South Black Range and Mt Palerang on Saturday. The bush is semi rainforest, I will be looking out for blood sucking leeches. :slight_smile:

Andrew, VK1NAM.

In reply to VK1NAM:

In reply to VK3ARR:

Interesting how we focus more on the dangerous critters.

Having seen the damage a suicidal wombat did to my friend’s car, I consider them dangerous critters :wink: Driving a Nissan 200SX, it damaged the front bumper, after market intercooler, disappeared under the car and took out the sump, before wandering off into the bush as if nothing had happened.

In reply to VK1NAM:
Heh. :wink:

The Taipan stories I heard were mostly from my dad’s Best Man, an Ausie who moved back from Kenya to Queensland (somewhere near Cairns). He figured Taipans and Black Mambas were much alike, and best avoided.

In reply to AX3AFW:

The East African equivalent of the Desert Adder is probably the Puff Adder. We saw one over New Year that was four or five feet long, and about five inches across at its thickest. They pull the same defensive trick, and probably kill more people and livestock than any other snake in the region. There’s also the Gaboon Viper, which prefers forested areas, is bigger, with longer fangs, and rarer…

There are dangers in any wilderness area, and it’s worth knowing what potential trouble to avoid in any one you visit. I’ll be sure to take a Sapient Pearwood staff(*) to deal with any Hoop Snakes and Drop Bears I might encounter any time I visit XXXX. :wink:

73, Rick M0LEP

(*) Hits things that need hitting before you know they’re there… :wink: