A mountain biker has stumbled upon a rare sight while riding along the popular Cascades trail in Belrose.

A rare sighting of a tiger snake has amazed residents and snake experts alike on the Cascades trail in Belrose on the Northern Beaches. Local Ben Terry was mountain biking along the popular area of creeks and bushland that make up the valley between Belrose, Davidson and St Ives when he spotted the stunning reptile.

“I definitely got a fright when I got near it as I only saw it at the last minute. Just after I took this picture, it flattened its neck, reared up, and lunged towards me as a warning before slithering off into the bush,” says Ben. “I got a bigger fright then!”

Image: Ben Terry

According to Australia Wide First Aid (AWFA), “tiger snakes are shy in nature and do not prefer confrontation when faced with a threat. They prefer to slither away to safety.”

“When threatened, tiger snakes will raise their body, puff up their neck, and hiss loudly as a warning. If they feel even more threatened, they may strike and bite.”

“The venom of a Tiger snake is highly potent as it contains neurotoxins, coagulants, and mycotoxins,” says information on the AFWA website. “Tiger snakes account for an estimated 17 percent of snakebites in Australia with four deaths recorded. Tiger snakes are highly venomous and are dangerous to humans.”

Sydney Wildlife Rescue volunteer Lynleigh Greig

Local Sydney Wildlife Rescue volunteer, Lynleigh Greig was excited to hear of the local sighting.

“The tiger snake (Notechis scutatus) is not a species commonly encountered in the suburban parts of the Northern Beaches,” she says. “In the past 12 years, I believe we have only had one in a backyard in Belrose. One was allegedly spotted in Palm Beach last year.”

“When they are spotted, it’s usually in the Ku-ring-gai National Park or Garigal National Park. I have only ever had three in care.”

Tiger snakes also appear to like The Cascades area. Ben says he’s lucky enough to have spotted another (or perhaps the same one) there in the past. He’s also come across many Red-bellied Black Snakes and Diamond Pythons on the track.

Image: Ben Terry

“I’m not too concerned with them, but I probably should have a plan if bitten by a venomous snake,” says Ben. “I’m usually on my bike, so don’t think about it.”

Those on bikes are usually quick enough to get past without issue. Still, walkers should be more cautious when out in our beautiful bushland advises Lynleigh.

“If a tiger snake is encountered by a member of the public while out bushwalking or mountain bike riding, it should be admired from a distance,” says Lynleigh. “We always recommend taking a compression bandage when hiking, and it’s generally a good idea to wear long pants, long socks, and sturdy shoes when out walking in the bush.”

“If you do not interfere with the snake, you will be safe. In the unlikely event you are bitten by a venomous snake, a compression bandage should be applied immediately,” says Lynleigh. “My favourite compression bandage is the one available from SSSafe.”

Tiger Snake (and main image) credit: David Clode

She advises that you do not move or drive yourself to the hospital. Once you apply the bandage, call Triple Zero, and stay as calm and still as possible.

“In addition to the compression bandage, the affected limb can be splinted to reduce movement,” she says. “To re-cap: apply the compression bandage first. Then, call an ambulance. Do not move.”

If a tiger snake is spotted in a backyard or inside a dwelling, members of the public can contact Sydney Wildlife Rescue for assistance on 9413 4300 or a professional snake catcher.

What incredible wildlife we have on the Northern Beaches!

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