Snakes of no concern for the Snake Wrangler who has survived far worse

Ian Jessup - Tamar Valley Snake Wrangler
Ian Jessup - Tamar Valley Snake Wrangler
Above: Ian Jessup, the Tamar Valley Snake Wrangler, holding his biggest Tiger Snake so far. (Photo: Zac Lockhart)

Ian Jessup, the “Snake Wrangler”, is a passionate man with a great love for snakes and life. Like many in the business, Ian adopted his fascination with snakes from his father. Having owned 3 snakes many years ago, Ian has only recently got back into snake handling after coming back from Western Australia.

Ian didn’t pursue a career in snake handling whilst he was living in Western Australia, however he still managed to have an up close and personal experience with a snake. Ian was returning a set of scales back under the bathroom bench and had inadvertently pushed them back over the top of a snake. “I thought oh, it’s a kid’s toy. I watched it and then it moved” Ian said.

He successfully caught the snake, but decided to let it go rather than keeping it.

Ian mostly services the Tamar Valley area, but has received the occasional call taking him out as far as Liffey and Derby. The minimum call out for reptile rescuers is only $50, and is a donation towards the volunteers expenses such as vehicle costs, equipment, insurance and training.

Snakes of no concern for the Snake Wrangler who has survived far worse
The 4th most venomous snake on the planet, The Tiger Snake.

When you find a snake and make the call to have it removed, you should definitely keep a good watch on where it goes. “Snakes aren’t hard to catch, but they’re hard to find.” Said Mr. Jessup

Ian recalled a few of the more memorable moments of his snake catching career where he got called to Bellbuoy Beach after a man went to the toilet and got quite the fright from an unwanted guest.

Some people like to argue that they hold a deep connection with their pets on a very intellectual basis, and maybe they do. Ian recalled a snake he got called out to catch down at Badgers Head after a dog had been barking outside the woman’s door. Upon opening the door, she was greeted by a tiger snake flying inside rather than the dog.

“It must have been saying sweet things, otherwise the snake would have had it.”

Initially the woman thought her dog was trying to express its desire to go inside, but could it have been trying to warn her of the snake?

Unfortunately, not everyone’s household pet lives to ‘bark’ the tale after a close encounter with a snake.

Ian was called to a tiger snake sighted in Glengarry where the family dog was presumed to have been trying to protect its young humans and got bitten instead. In most cases, a snake bite to a pet is lethal, which is not surprising given that tiger snakes are highly venomous.

“I think that one is the tenth one I’ve got from inside between Exeter and the coast already this year. Only two copper heads and all the rest have been tigers inside.”

“I’m often catching copperheads and think gosh I’d much prefer a big tiger.”

Ian describes the copper head as being a nervous snake and you don’t really know which way they will try to bite you, unlike the tiger.

“You give them a few minutes to calm down and they’ll just go like a piece of rope and be very placid. First up they just go off which is a bit exciting if you’re in a confined space.”

Retrieving snakes from people’s homes can be quite challenging and dangerous. Ian shared a chilling story of when he was called to catch a snake in Exeter. The snake had disappeared into a garden shed but had climbed up to the roof and was hiding. After standing with one foot on a vice and the other on the work bench peering over the top of the roof Ian had to look for the snake which was by no means a safe operation. Ian got quite the shock when the snake suddenly appeared from the shadows.

Unfortunately, on this occasion the snake got away after it disappeared through the cracks in the roof.

Another call came in from Beaconsfield where a snake had slithered it’s way into a room full of household items. The lady nearly stepped on the snake but was quick to call Ian. With a bit of knowledge on snake behaviour, the snake was quickly located hiding in a box along the perimeter of the room. “Snakes like to hold to the perimeter, that’s there first choice” Ian said.

Ian has had several scares throughout his life other than the ones presented when catching snakes. From surviving a brain tumour, 4 heart attacks and 2 plane crashes to being hit by lightning in Western Australia which he likes to describe as a “shocking” experience.

Ian has also suffered broken bones and multiple bleeds on his brain, but despite the long list of medical complaints, he doesn’t let these dampen his sense of humour. “I’m dead in 2-3 days if I don’t take my medication, adrenaline junky.

“I enjoy my life.”

So far this year, the snakes that have been relocated are all quite large, but Ian says the biggest problem is getting there quick enough.

Ian genuinely loves what he does and is only too happy to take the call and gets excited when the phone does ring.

“The biggest problem is people don’t know we exist, or where to find us. They have the snake sighting out the back door, there an absolute mental tither and trying to locate numbers.”

Ian encourages everyone in the Tamar Valley to consider adding the phone number to their speed dial/contact list to reduce the added stress when they are greeted with the presence of a snake on their property.

To get help from Ian when you need a snake relocated, call 0404 910 826

Want to learn more about snakes? Read our in-depth interview with Ian Norton here.

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