Snakes in the Assembly!

Snakes in the Assembly!  Main Image

31 March 2023


On Tuesday 28 March I invited snake catcher/expert and ANU Associate Professor Dr Gavin smith to the ACT Legislative Assembly. He brought four of his slithery friends with him to meet Members of the Assembly, their staff and the media. 

This visit coincided with my motion calling on the ACT Government to do more to promote snake education in our community and allow licenced snake catchers to care for injured snakes for more than the 48 hours they are given under current laws.  

I’m happy to say that my motion was supported unanimously in the Assembly.  

A critical part of our eco-system. 

The prospect of snakes may seem scary to some people, as was clear from the reactions from some of the Members! But they are a critical part of our ecosystem and a vital link in the food chain. So, it is important we protect native snakes for these reasons. 

Your kitchen pantry may well be rodent free as a result of Canberra’s snakes doing their part in reducing the rodent population numbers! 

We need to do more to promote awareness and education in our suburbs. 

Many people hold, quite understandably, a lot of fear of snakes and as our urban footprint continues to grow and new suburbs are built, we are likely to see an increase in them. 

For new Canberrans arriving from all over the world, the prospect of encountering a venomous snake in their backyard or while on a walk through the bush is daunting.  

It’s especially important for our newest residents to know how to live alongside Australia’s native animals. Currently it’s incredibly difficult to run education programs in the ACT with snakes, as under current regulations snake catchers aren’t allowed to keep native animals.  

I was shocked to learn that this has led to snakes being flown from interstate for education programs!  

We need to ensure snakes are looked after. 

Current regulations don’t allow snake catchers to keep an injured snake for more than 48 hours before seeking veterinary assistance. This puts unnecessary pressure on clinics who don’t have the facilities, staff or insurance to properly care for venomous snakes.  

My motion called on the ACT Government to look into the possibility of extending the care-window for snakes by licenced snake catchers. 

Living alongside out legless friends.  

Upon achieving a first in ACT history by bringing snakes into parliament, Dr Smith said “It is important for snakes to be respected and cared for, like they have been for thousands of years by the Ngunnawal peoples.” 

I hope this motion is just the start of greater protections for our native snakes, as well as support for those brave snake catchers educating the community.  

For more information about Gavin's work please head to

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