Thursday, August 24, 2017

Battling Pythons! Behind The Scenes Interview With Keith Williams

The other day I noticed someone share a pretty cool video on Twitter, two battling Carpet Pythons! I knew I had to write about this one, and I hope you'll check out the resulting article over on Earth Touch! I reached out all the way to Australia to talk to Keith Williams about his scaly neighbors, but I wasn't able to include all of the interview in the article, so I am including everything right here! I hope you'll enjoy this behind-the-scenes material.


Early reports indicated that these snakes were mating; how did you learn that male combat was the more likely explanation?

About two hour after posting videos on Facebbook I had a reply from a friend who is a wildlife carer for snakes, she said no they're fighting and posted videos of mating v fighting. I know that she knows a lot more about snakes than I do.  I then started getting similar comments on my twitter post (from people that I don't know). 

I have a Bachelors Degree in Environmental Science and my wife is currently completing her PhD in the Sea Turtles of NSW. I trust science. I accept evidence. And I know when I'm out of my depth.

Are you interested in the wildlife around you? What have you done to educate yourself about snakes?

For the past 10 years I've helped run a marine wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre, Australian Seabird Rescue, founded by my late father-in-law, I'm currently Vice-President and chief sea turtle wrangler. Through this work I've met all kinds of amazing wildlife and people. I'm particularly concerned by plastic, climate change and habitat loss.

I'm still fearful of snakes generally. I'll jump a mile if I spot one close to me. But once I'm over the initial shock, I'll go back for a look and try to ID the snake. I've taught myself to ID the ones that live near me. I can now easily tell the poisonous from the harmless.

Around here I really only worry about the Eastern Brown Snakes. We had two move into a Garden about 5m from the house last year. Our local snake catcher helped re-locate them away from the house.

Many people would be horrified to learn they were sharing a home with large snakes; why do you feel differently? 

Photo Courtesy of Keith Williams. Finn Williams checking
out on of the pythons in a more peaceful moment.

Nearly all wildlife is facing an onslaught from humans. More than half wiped out in my lifetime.  I do what I can to help the wildlife that lives around me. I've put up nest boxes, replanted native rainforest, volunteer with wildlife rescue. 

Snakes are part of a balanced ecosystem where I live. I reckon these particular snakes have lived in the roof longer than I've lived in the house. 

What would you say to somebody that was scared of snakes and did not want them around?

I do not feel threatened by pythons. They are no danger to me.

We live in the country.  I hate rats and mice around my home, we don't see any during winter with the pythons in the roof, so it's a symbiotic relationship. We get pest control and eradication, they get somewhere warm for winter.

What other wildlife (reptiles in particular) have you seen around your home/yard? 

Eastern brown, red bellied Black and whip snakes. Lots of predator birds Kookaurras, Butcher birds, Magpies, Currawongs, so we see very few lizards, but also Honey-eaters, Rainbow lorikeets, cockatoos. Wedgetailed eagles high above. Echidna, swamp wallaby, bandicoots, possums, Fruit bats. Houses nearby have koalas visiting.

Best spotting ever was seeing a pair of Richmond Birdwing Butterflies (critically endangered) fly past our verandah one day. I've planted more of the particular species of vine they lay their eggs on.

Are you surprised by all the interest your observation has generated?

I was fascinated, so I'm not really surprised others are as well. But the level of interest has been extraordinary.

Is there any information about these snakes or your wildlife co-existence philosophy that you want people to know that hasn’t appeared in other coverage of your observation?

For the first time in many generations we risk leaving our children a much poorer planet than we inherited. It's not right. Do what you can locally to change that.




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