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Snakes alive

Wednesday, 05 September 2012

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Just the sight of a snake can make some people shudder – but not Marcus Cosentino.

The ECU masters student has a passion for these scaly creatures. He is heading up a new research project which focuses on repopulating areas where endemic South-west carpet pythons are in decline by using captive bred and raised pet carpet pythons.

The non-venomous snakes are listed as protected fauna in WA, however many homes across WA keep them as pets. Mr Cosentino ultimately wants to re-introduce these snakes into the wild to help increase the declining numbers.

Before this can be realised, he must lab test that the captive bred snakes still have the survival characteristics necessary for them to thrive after being released.

His research has found that to date, no one has tried this approach to revitalise a diminishing population for any species of fauna in the world.

“Buying a snake for around $500 is much cheaper than paying a zoo to breed a colony of carpet pythons over several years,” he said.

“This may be a much cheaper option as a source for reintroduction program animals, not just for carpet pythons, but for any species readily available in the pet trade.”

In his research, Mr Cosentino spends his time around snakes, assessing whether or not they can survive in the wild.

He has the following advice for people as we head into the snake season.

“If you find yourself up close to a snake in the wild make sure you stay still. Snakes react defensively to movement, if you’re not disturbing the snake he won’t see the need to attack.”

“If you are standing still and a snake still comes towards you, it is usually just seeking cover from predators”

“As long as you behave correctly and stay out of their way you will be fine!”

Mr Cosentino is currently in the middle of his research project, with results to be released early next year.

His is currently looking for access to large rural properties as this is an imperative stage to future snake research he would like to undertake.

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