Photographic Artist and Creative Writer
Snake Handler ,Gary Bright. Mobile 0427 436 223.
Born in Bendigo 52 years ago and having lived here all his life, Snake Handler Gary Bright lived in fear of snakes until ten years ago.
“How I got into it [snake handling] was I went to a pet shop about ten years ago (whereas beforehand I was petrified of snakes,) to get something else,” chuckled the quietly spoken Gary, “I saw the pythons there, you know, and I handled the python.”
From that first encounter Gary has learned to love snakes of all types, overcoming his fear which he acknowledged was a ‘big step’. His first snake was a big male coastal carpet python called Monty which he still owns.
Despite getting bitten by his first venomous snake, a red bellied black, and going to hospital, Gary has continued to add to his snake collection and now owns several more pythons, as well as venomous snakes that include red bellied blacks and Queensland collette snakes. “I just love the idea of handling venomous snakes.”
It was at a friend’s suggestion just over a year ago that got Gary into business as a professional snake handler. When Gary collects the snakes, he takes them out to the local bush where there is good vegetation and water and where each species congregate.
Before getting the $116.00 p.a. license from the Department of Sustainability and Environment, Gary had to initially attend Ballarat Wildlife Park. “Owned by Stuart and Greg Parker, who own a reptile business down there… they had a course for venomous snake handling…I did the course and obtained the permit.”
Gary is also a member of the Melbourne Herpetological Society which meets in order to learn from other members.
Gary is not interested in doing any shows with his snakes, preferring to keep to the snake handling and removing side of the business.
“The best thing would be meeting new people…while the worst thing would be trying not to get bitten,” was Gary’s immediate response to my questions about the best and worst things about his job.
If he does get bitten his first thing is to bandage the bite area, right up the arm, then “go straight to casualty where they will assess you… they take a swab of venom of the bite, they put it into a detection machine…to tell them what sort of bite it was if you don’t know it yourself…they then get the proper anti venom and administer it.”
“To be bitten by a venomous snake it’s not a very good experience,” says Gary matter of factly. “It’s quite painful…oh…when I mean quite painful, the venom starts going up to the lymph system…that’s…[why] you apply the bandage to stop the venom flowing to the heart and other organs of your body…no it’s not pleasant.” Fortunately Gary has only been bitten once.
Initially Gary was going to bring out a quiet red bellied black snake to my home for me to meet, but I asked for a python instead. While Gary said the red bellied black was quiet, he emphasised that “you never caress a venomous snake…you have to treat it with respect.”
If you love snakes, Gary’s advice is to learn a lot about snakes, starting with learning about pythons a lot more before the venomous type and to have a lot of years experience before getting into venomous snakes.
Finally Gary said this about snakes, “They are a lovely creature, they are just misunderstood by a lot of people…they are not as fearful as people think they are really.”
Gary’s advice to anyone who comes across a snake at home:
• Phone the DSE or local council or local police station. You will be given Gary’s number and then phone him for him to come out to assess the situation. He will relocate the snake. “And never corner a venomous snake, give it a wide berth and try to keep an eye on it.
Gary Bright, snake handler. Mobile 0427 436 223.
He charges a reasonable fee for such a dangerous and important service.