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Snake season starts early as unusually high temperatures hit Australia


By Caolán Magee, CNN

(CNN) — Warming global temperatures are dangerous for people in many ways, but they’re proving ideal for one type of animal: venomous snakes.

As Australia’s east coast experiences one of its warmest winters on record, snake season appears to have started early. The Australian Reptile Park has issued an “urgent warning” for people to be on the look out for venomous snakes.

A rise in temperatures, coupled with winter rainfall, is the perfect environment for venomous snakes to become more active, the Australian Reptile Park said in a statement.

Snakes tend to “brumate” over the winter, a state similar to hibernation during which they become less active and often seek out a place to hide until temperatures start to climb again. Usually this doesn’t happen until September.

But the heat is enticing snakes to emerge sooner than usual and snake catchers have reported a significant increase in call outs – a phenomenon rarely seen at this time of year, according to the Australian Reptile Park.

“It’s important that all Australians know that [snakes] do not go out of their way to harm people. Snake bites mostly occur when people are trying to catch or kill the snake, so if you don’t do either of those things, there’s a greater chance that you’ll be okay!” Billy Collett, operations manager at the park, said in a statement.

But he urged people to learn how to deal with snake bites, which can be fatal in as little as 30 minutes. These include keeping bite victims calm, removing jewelry and watches and bandaging the whole limb, not just the bite area. He also recommended people keep backyards clear of stacks of firewood and other materials which can creating ideal habitats for snakes.

As the world continues to burn planet-warming fossil fuels, and global temperatures soar, Australia’s winters have been steadily warming.

Last month was the fourth warmest July on record for New South Wales, data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology shows. Across the country, temperatures were nearly 1.2 degrees Celsius above average for this time of year.

In the UK, which this year experienced its hottest June on record by a significant margin, rising temperatures are also affecting its snake population – specifically pet snakes.

The animal non-profit the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) said more snakes in captivity are breaking free from their enclosures due to the warming climate.

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