The reptilian wildlife of Australia is almost infinitely diverse and unique and can be a true joy to behold - but not when you wake up sharing your sleeping bag with it. Keeping snakes out of your tent or camper trailer on a camping trip is a big priority for any Australian camping enthusiast, since the country is home to some of the most venomous and deadly snakes found anywhere in the world.
However, anti-snake precautions need not be elaborate or expensive. There are various techniques and devices you can use to ensure that your tent remains thoroughly snake-free, even in the high season.
Snakes have no interest in your food supplies, but rodents, insects and small birds do, and an abundance of small animals feeding on your food will attract snakes seeking to prey on them. As such, it's vitally important to keep your food tightly sealed, especially against tenacious pests such as rats, who can easily find their way through flimsy barriers to get at your food. There are a number of good ways to store your camp site food safely out of reach:
- Simple plastic containers can be chewed through with alarming speed by rats and other rodents, so it's best to keep perishable items in robust, lockable containers.
- Placing your food in a sealed bag and hanging it from a tall tree is a simple expedient to protect your food and also keeps away other scavengers such as dingos.
- If you are staying at a camp site with an electrical hookup, a powered camping fridge is secure enough to keep out pests.
However you choose to store your food, make sure to keep it in a shaded, sheltered place away from your sleeping area - that way, if pests do find their way into your food, the snakes that follow won't find themselves in your tent.
Snakes are cold-blooded and will always seek out warm areas to rest, particularly during the cool nights. As such, many a snake has found its way into a tent during the night to disturb the sleeping occupants, something most people like to avoid.
First, you should makes sure that your sleeping accommodation isn't close to any natural habitats for snakes, such as fallen trees, rocky outcrops or natural water sources. You want your tent to be surrounded by as much clear space as possible, so you should also clear away fallen leaves and detritus.
When it comes to securing the tent itself, keeping the zips firmly closed whenever you're away from the tent is the simplest and most effective method. This applies even when you are doing things close to the tent, such as washing or cooking, as a snake startled by your presence can slip into your tent to hide unnervingly quickly. If you'd prefer extra safety, suspend a robust mosquito net over your bed, making sure to secure the bottom of the net before going to sleep.
Natural or chemical snake repellents can be very effective if properly used and provide extra peace of mind for the camper. However, not every snake repellent on the market is truly fit for purpose, so it's important to bear the following things in mind:
- Never use any snake repellent containing naphthalene. This chemical is the active ingredient in traditional mothballs and is effective at repelling snakes; however, it will also wipe out any small animals that get too close and can be harmful to humans too if inhaled. Instead, use sulphur-based snake repellents. They may smell pretty foul, but they're much friendlier to the wildlife and just as effective.
- Liquids and powders are created for use at home but tend to wear off quickly in the great outdoors. Aerosol spray generally has more staying power, and is easier to apply to awkward nooks and crannies in your camping setup.
For more ideas, you may want to visit a local camping equipment supplier and see what products and tools they have that you can use to keep snakes away from your camp.