Recently me and Lydia started a business aimed at improving awareness around our native species whilst letting people meet our friendly animals for an up close and personal encounter.
We take our animals to a variety of events including birthday parties, corporate functions and festivals/shows. People love to meet the animals but their welfare always comes first. If we sense they are at all stressed or agitated we remove them from the environment to somewhere safe and quiet. Our animals are our babies and we care for them as best as we possibly can.
Chris with Carlos
Lydia with Carlos
When we take our animals to shows we have rules around which ones can and can't be handled. Most animals can be touched, except the frogs, but only Black Betty the large black headed python can be held by people. She is the only snake we fully trust and she is strong and sturdy, the rest of the animals it poses an unnecessary risk to either them or us. As much as I'd like to let the kids hold stuff if they hold them incorrectly or drop them they could be easily injured and it isn't an experience anyone would enjoy.
We take a few different animals and we spend about 10 minutes speaking about each one. During that time we try and give a brief outline of where the animal is found, how big they grow, what they eat etc. I think the snakes are especially important as there is a lot of unfounded fear and misinformation regarding snakes. Whilst yes, if you come across one in the wild you should be wary, you don't need to be scared of them.
Snakes will try and flee most of the time and if they don't just slowly move backwards away from them. I've never been in a situation where I felt like I needed to kill a snake to protect myself.
Dave with Black Betty
If you do happen to be bitten the best thing you can do is not move. Even if you are days away from help and have nothing the best thing you can do if envenomed is just stay as still as possible. If you can bandage around the wound nice and tight and splint the limb to prevent movement.
Snake venom travels through the lymphatic system and is pushed around via muscle movement. It is highly unlikely the venom will enter the bloodstream when bitten. If you keep still you keep alive. This has worked for aborigines for thousands of years and is effective against some of the deadliest species of snake in the world including the Eastern brown snake.
The animals we take to shows have all been handled a lot throughout their lives, most of them are pretty comfortable with human interaction and some even seem to enjoy it. The beardie particularly likes it when people give him pats but he does sometimes get a little overwhelmed, you can tell because his eyes start darting around and he tries to get off your hand looking for an escape.
Stumpy seems to be the most relaxed and will happily just sit there the entire time and do nothing, if you put him on the ground he will just wander about.
We hope to add a few more animals to take to shows but it will require a lot of work to get them to that level, especially the crocodile.