I never really know what i’ll find when I’m out at night looking for wildlife but this night had a suprise in store for me and my partner as we walked between the flooded fields and rice paddies in our local neighbourhood.
We were walking along the edge of one of the flooded fields looking into the water when we spotted a Rainbow Water Snake (Enhydris enhydris) which wasn’t an unusual sight but there was something odd about this particular snake.
The snake was near a dead snake floating in the water which seemed strange; why would it be hanging around with a dead, rotting snake? There was also something else peculiar about this snake, when we first saw the snake it spotted us and dissapeared under the water and we naturaly thought that was the last we’d see of it but after a short time it popped up in same spot. Moments later and it again, and again. Something definitely wasn’t right……
I reached down and positioned my snake hook under the snake and began to lift it out of the water. It was very heavy which was weird so I assumed that it had wrapped itself around the vegetation in the pond. As I lifted it out of the water I was stunned by what I saw, the snake had been caught by an abandoned fishing net.
The poor snake wasn’t the only victim of the net, as I dragged the rest of the net out we discovered that the dead snake we had spotted was entangled in the same net along with many crabs and dead fish.
We now had the net on the banks but had nothing to cut it out of the net with and after some failed attempts to free it we decided to take it home and cut it free there.
The first thing I did was cut it free from the dead snake (right) and then began the slow and steady process of gently freeing it from the mess of tightly wound net.
The snake was very well behaved or just worn out from struggling in the net but either way I was thankful, as it didn’t strike at me once as I untangled it.
The more I untangled the net the clearer it became just how badly tangled it had become and some strands of the net hand become so tight around the snake that it was a real challenge to get the scissors under them and snip them loose.
After snipping the majority of the net away the snake began to wriggle and reverse its body, then suddenly, it was free and made a break for it. I wasn’t finished with it just yet though I still wanted to have a last look to make sure it was free of any fishing line.
It seemed ok apart from some obvious marks where the lines had been which luckily had not broken the skin.
All that was left to do was get it into a sac so that we could take it and release it into a flooded area where we knew there were plenty of frogs and were people wouldn’t be setting up nets.
We put the snake down on the grass and it gently slipped out of the bag and dissapeared into the flooded field. It was out of sight and hopefully out of harm’s way.
We were disturbed by the sight of this snake which would have been left there to slowly starve or drown in the net along with the many other victims but glad that we had helped it. Hopefully, it makes a full recovery and manages to keep clear of anymore discarded fishing nets.
Sadly, this is not the first time that we have seen animals face unnecessary suffering at the hands of thoughtless humans. If you are going to go fishing, be mindful of the impact of your thoughtlessness. Same goes for when you throw trash on the side of the road. Small actions, have big consequences.
If you’d like to see some of the other snakes we saw this week you can here Rain and Rainbow Water Snakes