THE recent spate of snake sightings in South Gippsland in what has been a bitterly cold few weeks has intrigued experts.
Nick Clemann is a scientist with the Victorian Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
His area of expertise is reptiles and frogs.
He responded to questions from the Sentinel-Times which were prompted by snake sightings reported Dolly Joyce from Outtrim and others.
The sightings coincided with seismic survey undertaken recently in the area, which used shockwaves to test for coal seam gas.
“It is difficult to give a definitive answer without some field observations and quantification of ‘uncommonly frequent number of sightings’,” Mr Clemann said.
“Some Victorian reptiles will emerge in winter, but usually they will simply bask in sunny patches that are very close to their over-wintering shelter.
“An air temperature of 11 degrees would usually be too cold for emergence, but it very much depends on the specific micro environment of the shelter sites.
“For example, areas that are exposed to sunlight and are rocky or around sheet metal such as corrugated iron can become very warm from direct sunlight, and thus reptiles sheltering in such areas can emerge to lie in the sun even if the air temperature is low.
“However these animals would generally not move very far, especially if that involved moving into shaded/cooler areas.
“Seismic disturbances in the area are a plausible trigger for disturbing sheltering reptiles, but I have no experience or knowledge of this triggering winter emergence.
“So I’m afraid the best I can offer in terms of whether or not the seismic testing played a role in the snake sightings is ‘maybe’.”