Being from New Zealand, I’m not one to be overly worried by things like snakes or other reptiles, having never been instilled with any kind of fear of them. Naturally, when I came across a snake on my daily travels here in Australia, which was both exposed and easily photographed I was delighted.
Of course, at the time I just thought this was a very cute snake and an excellent photography subject. What I didn’t realize at the time and possibly should of, is that this snake is incredibly dangerous. What you’re looking at above is a Tiger Snake, which has an incredibly fearsome reputation and is one of the most venomous snakes in the entire world. This specimen in particular is the Eastern Tiger Snake, which helped in some ways to ensure that I didn’t quite realize what I was looking at. Most Tiger Snakes I had seen – in a zoo that is – were a black color with bright yellow stripes, but apparently that’s one of a variety of different variations in coloration. So here I was happily taking photos from a reasonable distance of a snake, which has venom with a mortality rate between 40-60% untreated.
I have to say, this snake was one of the most compliant photography subjects I’ve had in terms of snakes. Most snakes I’ve encountered, like the more numerous tree snakes and red-bellied black snakes (another venomous snake) tend to run away from me (figuratively) when I encounter them. So one that sat around begging for photos? Well that was an opportunity I wasn’t going to miss out on!
Here I got much closer to the snake and it did wiggle away a bit from me. Unlike the other snakes though, it happily sat there and watched me photograph it. While it was moving a bit, it wasn’t as kinetic as the Red-Bellies I’d seen before so it was actually possible to get some nice shots of it. Although I’ve not seen a lot of snakes, I knew enough about their behavior not to make sudden moves and to watch for any sign of rearing/hissing on their part. I think one of the things that got me through here was my slow, cautious and meticulous movements not surprising the animal as I took photos. In fairness on thinking about it, this also probably contributed to my current state of not being dead.
This shot of the head I am obscenely proud of, because this was by far the most active part of the snake and it can be reasonably seen. It’s well worth noting these shots were all taken on a cellphone and not a proper camera, so it’s pretty good in terms of what it does manage to show here. Vastly different lighting between the bridge area and this shaded grassy region also didn’t help, so of the shots I took I’m happy enough with this. While I took this from maybe 2 feet away, there was no way I was getting any closer than that to the actual snakes head – that’s the bit that bites after all – or risk nudging the body by mistake.
Satisfied that my model was satisfied with their photography for the day, I decided to back off and leave the animal be. On reflection, had I realized it was so dangerous I may have taken a different approach, but I’m overall very satisfied with these shots.