It reads like an Aussie Christmas song…
In the 80 days of Springtime, Mad Pauly saved for thee: 47 dugites, 17 tiger snakes, 16 bobtails, five barking geckos, four two-toed skinks, two blind snakes, and a chicken on a rooftop.
But even though requests for Mad Pauly’s services have boomed since last season, he’s quick to point out that’s the result of recent fame, rather than a surge in snake numbers.
“There’s a perception out there that there’s more snakes now.”
“But if that was true, there’s be more babies around. Every call-out I get – they’re big, which means they’ve been around for 15, 20, up to 30 years,” he said.
“What’s really happening is that land development around our area is pushing out in a massive rate of knots. Areas are being cleared in football-sized chunks. And snakes are having to find new homes.
“Plus, everyone’s got a mobile phone in their hands these days and are reporting the snakes they find.”
Mad Pauly is a Piara Waters legend who has been helping the people of south Perth to relocate reptiles who roam into residences for the past seven years – free of charge.
He’s also keen on dispelling a few myths and fostering a healthy appreciation for our scaly friends: “People are slowly changing their minds and fewer people these days repeat that saying ‘the only good snake is a dead snake’.”
He said he knows firsthand how wrong people can be about snakes.
“I learned on my first day of training that everything I knew about snakes was incorrect,” he said.
“For instance, a lot of people believe that tiger snakes are naturally aggressive, which they’re not. Most snakes are just defensive – they react when confronted with a threat.”
He said people habitually anthropomorphise snakes, projecting human emotions onto them that just don’t exist.
“All snakes want to do is eat, sleep and make babies. Snakes don’t hate us, they don’t get bored and they don’t get angry,” he said.
“They don’t want to fight – the ones that charge do that so they can escape. They’re really not the bogeyman that people get taught they are.”
Mad Pauly said the best move to make if you walk in the path of a snake is to not move at all.
Snakes have notoriously poor vision, and can’t see you if you’re stationary. If possible, slowly back away.
And if you do get bitten, the first thing to remember is to not panic.
“I know that’s easier said than done,” he said.
“But snake venom enters the lymphatic system, not the bloodstream. So, the best thing to do is pressure bandage up and down the bitten limb, then rest and wait for someone to come and find you.”
On average, only two people die from snake bites per year in Australia.
“And most of those fatalities involve people who get bitten then continue to move, pumping that venom all over their body,” he said.
And don’t try to kill the snake to show to attending doctors and nurses.
“Chances are, they won’t know what they’re looking at,” he said.
“Doctors take blood samples and can determine what kind of antivenom you need from the bloodwork,” he said.
Pauly posts his catch and release videos to his Facebook page, which has attracted over 12,000 followers – double last year’s numbers.
A recent interaction with a death adder in Jarrahdale caused a huge swell of interest in the community.
Many were simply not aware that southern death adders made their homes along the scarp. In a bit of a plot twist, Mad Pauly was called back to the same Jarrahdale residence a week later to rehome a dugite.
And then there was the pair of blind snakes he saved from a pool in Cardup.
“They were cool. They just look like big, fat worms except they have a forked tongue and they move like a snake. They’re also completely harmless,” he said.
And over the weekend he had the pleasure of relocating five barking or fat-tailed geckos from a lean-to in Jarrahdale.
“They were gnarly. Always fun to have something different,” he said, still nursing his bite from one of the geckos.
Last year he was called out to rescue three Stimson’s pythons – a snake which definitely does not call Perth home.
“They were most likely pets or hitchhikers. One of those ended up in a bathroom exhaust fan. The lady discovered it while she was about to hop in the shower, and I was called out at midnight,” he said.
There was a good ending to that story though – the owner was found two kilometres away from where the python was discovered and they were reunited.
Anyone wanting help rehoming a reptile can contact Mad Pauly at 0466 239 231, or via his Mad Paulys Reptile Removal Facebook page.