This evening, when I called a Brisbane snake catcher to save an Eastern Brown’s life, I did not expect him to be married to one of Australia’s top romance authors, Ally Blake.
My younger son Chris had told me on Saturday night he had seen a large snake by the house, but it had gone. I wanted to check the surroundings but it was too dark when I returned from my recent trip to Papua New Guinea. After work today, I checked around the house to make sure no slithering kinds were lurking in the dark corners outside the house. This is the season for hibernators to emerge. Sure enough, at the back of the house, in the shady leafy spot among layers of fallen leaves and a stone wall, the fish net moved from side to side when I approached.
I knew it was alive, and I could see the beautiful long golden tail tuck away instinctively. The head was locked into the nylon knots in an awkward angle. It was an Eastern Brown, about a metre and a half long. We had caught a large male two years ago in the same spot and freed him into the Brisbane City Council wildlife reserve. This one was surprisingly alive and strong after several days in the net. The Eastern Brown snake accounts for more fatalities than any other Australian Snake. It is the second most poisonous land snake in the world and the most poisonous in South east Queensland.
I quickly ran back into the house to phone for help. From 5:30pm today, I called six snake catchers, one after the other – they were all busy. Finally, the fifth snake catcher who was heading three hours out-of-town told me to call Mark, the Bellbowrie snake catcher.
Mark told me he was away, but he would get to Bellbowrie in half hour, and if I had not found anyone else, he would set the snake free or take it away for a small fee. Mark also said he lived in Bellbowrie. I told Mark, I just wanted to make sure, the snake did not die.
After 45 minutes, Mark arrived. Armed with my torch, camera and his hoop, net and snake-catching equipment, we ventured into the back of the house where the snake was. Mark is an environment scientist and like me, he was more concerned about saving the snake’s life. I was relieved when he told me that.
As Mark tried to undo the feisty Eastern Brown, we had a conversation about other things and I mentioned casually that I had to leave soon to attend a creative writing workshop.
“Really! My wife writes romance novels. She has written 32 books”. Mark beamed.
“Who is your wife?”
“Wow!” – that was all I could say. Mark’s wife, Ally Blake is one of Australia’s top romance authors with over 4 million copies sold world-wide. She has published through Harlequin Mills and Boon, Entangled Publishing and Tule Publishing.
When Mark could not untangle the snake, he suggested it was safer to take the reptile with part of the net to his house. There, he was better equipped to relax the reptile and properly treat its injuries and rest it before releasing the snake into the local reserve.
Mark said the snake was a female of a few years and that females tended to stay at a favourite spot and the males come to visit.
“If you see two snakes wrestling, those will be two males fighting for her,” Mark said.
That was not really the news I wanted to hear – but a lot of changes will be happening this weekend to the snake’s favourite hiding place.
I have to also check out some of those romance novels by Ally Blake.