13 December 2023

A red-belly in the chassis puts Riverina snake catcher to the test

| Chris Roe
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red-belly snake under car

Josh Thompson admits to a few nervous moments while removing a large snake from under a car. Photo: Josh’s reptile relocation.

Joshua Thompson has only been a snake catcher in Wagga for a few months, but he’s just become a viral sensation after posting a video overnight of his latest dramatic reptile rescue.

Images of Josh poking around under a vehicle searching for a large red-bellied black snake have been widely shared from Wagga Wagga Thumbs UP Thumbs DOWN.

“Going under a car, where you don’t know where a snake is, is a particularly terrifying moment,” he said wryly.

“I was clenched a little bit. Not gonna lie.”

READ ALSO Wagga’s newest snake catcher is ready to wrangle rogue reptiles

The adventure began in the heat on Monday afternoon when Josh received a call.

“They said a snake just crawled under a car and I thought, cool, it’s probably an eastern brown snake looking for somewhere to get away from the heat, and to tell you the truth, I wasn’t expecting to find a snake by the time I got there,” he said.

“But there was a group of people standing around and they 100 per cent confirmed that it went inside the car and they confirmed that it hasn’t come out.”

Josh began by looking under the car and the wheel arches, popped the bonnet and explored inside the engine, but couldn’t see any sign of the snake.

The next step was to crawl underneath and hope he saw the reptile before it spotted him.

“I spent about five minutes looking, and then a little head popped out from one of the support beams in the chassis through the bash plate and I was like, OK, we’ve definitely got a red-belly under there!”

After tapping and poking around for 40 minutes without success – and by now suffering from a mild case of heat stroke – Josh called his mechanic.

“I rang the blokes at Kmart Auto and said, ‘I’ve got a peculiar situation and I was wondering if you’re free enough this arvo to help me out’,” he said.

“I think they half thought I was joking when I said I’ve got a snake in a car, but they told me to bring it down and they hoisted it up for me.”

Josh said the snake reappeared almost immediately and he was surprised by its size.

“When I saw the head, I thought it was a small red-belly, maybe two or three foot. Well, it turned out to be more like four or five-foot long.”

Unable to coax the snake out, Josh slipped on a welding glove, grabbed it from behind and gently drew the gleaming red-and-black snake out from under the vehicle.

“He wasn’t happy having its head grabbed out of nowhere, but there was no other way I could get it, so he was definitely warranted in having a go at me!”

READ ALSO Wagga Council secures trial of innovative pothole repair machine

Josh said his new career as a snake catcher had been eventful so far.

“I’ve done between 40 and 60 calls in the last couple of months,” he said.

“It’s been perfect weather for them this year because it was already warm long before it was summer. They are out and about and they’re a lot bigger than I usually find.

“You’d usually find smaller, two or three-foot brown snakes, but most are over four or five and I’ve had a couple of eight or nine-foot snakes.

“I’m six-foot tall and I had one where I held its tail well over my head and it was still on the ground.”

Despite this alarming news, Josh said the best things to do if anyone saw a snake was not to panic, keep out of its way and give him a call.

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