PETER PATTER: Snakes making daily walk a nightmare

FOR A city which has its cathedral named after St Patrick, Toowoomba seems to have a lot of snakes.

It seems not a day has gone by lately without another video report on The Chronicle's website or Facebook showing a slimy reptile being extracted from someone's shed, toilet or, even more frightening, bedroom.

And, knowing these venomous fiends are being relocated does little to ease my anxiety.

Are they being relocated west of Birdsville or somewhere just as distant? I fear not.

My aversion to snakes goes back to my childhood.

As a seven-year-old I broke into a cold sweat watching the Jungle Book movie at the cinema when Kaa the yellowish Indian rock python appeared on the screen - and that snake was a cartoon.

It was almost as scary as some of the cartoons that appear in this column.

I hate snakes! From the Garden of Eden to John Wayne westerns to door-to-door insurance salesmen, snakes have never been a welcome site.

A former boss of mine used to argue that snakes were an important part of the ecosystem and deserved their protected status. Woolshed! I say.

Why should anything with the potential to kill us be protected?

Ireland doesn't have any snakes (thanks to St Patrick) and they have an eco system that thrives without them.

God created the outback for things like snakes so why can't they stay in the bush instead of venturing into the metropolis?

Being born and raised in North Queensland, I can understand snakes being spotted among the tropical thicket. I get that.

But on Ruthven St?

I've had to re-route my daily walks to and from work which hitherto had taken in the pleasant surrounds of the banks of West Ck between Margaret and Russell Sts due to the thick reed growth along the footpath near the Russell St bridge.

It was enough having to up my pace as I stepped through the overgrown footpaths on Mort St, but when arriving at West Ck I was suddenly getting the feeling that someone - or something - was watching me from amid the aforementioned reeds on one side of the footpath and the shrubbery on the other.

But, all this snake catching publicity has only made things even worse for me at night.

These warm nights we've been having have had me sleeping on top of the bed with the window wide open to allow for a breeze.

There's nothing more disconcerting for us ophiophobians (abnormal fear of snakes - I Googled it) than being asleep when, suddenly, the breeze coming through the window flicks the sheet across one's leg.

My neighbours already give me strange looks, but what they must think when being woken by a grown man's screams in the middle of the night and rise to spot same grown man hanging from the ceiling like a chandelier, shaking in fright, is anyone's guess.

The only good thing I can say about our recent reptilian invasion is that it has helped with my exercise regime.

Not only am I walking a lot faster when negotiating the overgrown footpaths in the ghetto, but I've taken to doing callisthenics in the form of bending down to check under beds, cupboards and wardrobes before going to bed.

And, after seeing this week's news item of a woman who moved her refrigerator to find a heavily pregnant 1.5m long brown snake under her fridge, I'm not even walking through my kitchen.

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