In spring we were treated to rare close-up views of our resident Red-bellied Black snakes. My husband had built a series of compost heaps adjoining the vegetable garden fence, very close to a favourite basking spot of the middle-sized black snake. Soon the snake discovered this warm and comfortable place to rest, and before long had allowed the Big Mama black snake from the far side of the dam to join him. One day we saw three of them twined together enjoying the warmth and luxury of the composting grass and leaf litter. We could look down from the deck above, and gaze without disturbing them.
Red-bellied Black snakes are welcome on most properties because they supposedly drive away more harmful snakes, such as Browns. They are not aggressive, but actually very shy, slipping quietly away if they sense your approach. Our snakes, who are good swimmers, feed mainly on frogs, but also on rats and mice they might find around the garden, another reason to welcome them. We have watched them mating, and every year we have some to the young sliding through the garden or around the house, learning the ropes. However we have had a few exciting experiences with the really big one, Big Mama, who lives in the wetlands on the other side of the house dam.
We were hosting our Swedish friends Ken and Annelie who were keen to see all the wildlife. Although we had seen nearly everything, the snakes had remained hidden. Walking back from the beach on a narrow track through thick trees in the wetlands, I suddenly saw Big Mama lying directly across the track. I only had time to extend my step to miss her, and I signalled the others to continue and step across her. It was all over in a flash, she was barely awake, and moved off sluggishly as we departed, stifling our cries of amazement and laughter until we were further away! That was a good story to take home to Sweden!!