Living with wildlife

We share our urban environment with a range of native fauna species including possums, bats, snakes and birds.

All native wildlife is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. Fines and penalties apply for harming native animals under the Act.

Snakes

The most common snakes in Moonee Valley are the brown and tiger snakes. The tiger snake varies in colour and pattern but most frequently has alternating light and dark bands. Tiger snakes are generally frightened of you and will try to get away when approached. The brown snake is silvery to chocolate brown coloured and has a very small head. Brown snakes can be aggressive when provoked.

Snake bites

If you are bitten by a snake, immediately call 000 to seek urgent medical advice and stay calm.

If you think your pet might have been bitten by a snake, take it to a vet immediately, even if they seem to be recovering as some animals recover briefly before suffering a total collapse.

Snake season

Please be on the lookout during snake season - from September to February.

As the weather warms up snakes may appear in open spaces, parks and even our own gardens, usually in search of water, food or somewhere to hide.

Reserves are great places to relax but remember they are also the natural habitat for snakes. Take care when walking along creeks and bike tracks, and make sure you keep your dog on a lead in parks where snakes may be present, especially along waterways.

Snakes are an essential part of natural food chains, both as food for other animals and as predators of small animals, including mice, rats and frogs. If you encounter a snake, leave it alone and slowly walk away. If you see a snake on your property it’s safest to have it taken away by a professional wildlife controller.

Remember it is illegal to kill, keep or catch snakes in Victoria unless you are licensed to do so.

Discouraging snakes from your property

In hot dry conditions snakes sometimes move in to residential areas – usually in search of water, food or somewhere to hide. A well-maintained garden is less likely to attract them.

  • Cut your grass regularly - start cutting close to your house and work outwards as snakes head away from vibrations
  • Keep backyard materials to a minimum. Things leaning against your fence make good hiding places for snakes
  • Remember that pets like chickens, rabbits and birds attract mice – a favourite food for snakes

Swooping birds

Residents are reminded to keep an eye out for swooping birds during the spring breeding season. Together with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, we encourages residents to highlight swoop sites in the local area. Report the swooping location by adding a 'swoop site' directly to the map on their website, or tweet @DELWP_Vic with the location details and #swoopvic.

You can also download the free Swoop Off kit from the department's website. It includes tips to reduce the risk of a swoop attack and a set of printable eyes to attach to the back of helmets and hats that may dissuade birds from swopping.

For further information, visit www.delwp.vic.gov.au or call 136 186.

Possums

Moonee Valley is home to two species of possum - Ringtail and Brushtail. Both species are nocturnal and need dark places to rest during the day.

Ringtails use nests (known as a drey) in the dense foliage of tall shrubs or trees, while Brushtails nest in tree hollows.

Null

Brushtail possum

Null

Ringtail possum

In urban areas, Brushtails can also find shelter in the roof cavities of houses, garages or sheds. This can generate a lot of noise, especially when possums are squabbling or walking about. It can also lead to a build-up of urine stains and droppings, creating an odour. In rare cases, possums can damage plaster ceilings when they fight.

In backyards, possums can defoliate trees as they feed on the same plant for many days or weeks. They can also trigger dogs to bark, which can be a frustration for residents at night.

What can you do to limit the impact of possums at your house?

  • Install a possum nest box
  • Build a fence of wire netting around your garden beds. String high-tensile wire between posts. Attach the netting loosely so it sways when a possum attempts to climb it. Bury the bottom 20cm of netting and curve the top outwards
  • Use tree guards or wire covers to protect young plants
  • Place collars (hard plastic or soft metal) around the tree trunks to stop possums browsing or climbing trees next to your house. Collars need to be at least 60cm from the ground and 60cm wide
  • Trim branches that allow a possum to jump from the canopy of another tree, or a structure nearby
  • Block all entry points to your roof once the possum has left for the night. It’s best to block these areas with a one-way flap so the possum can get out, but not in again.

It’s important you don’t attempt to trap possums, as this is illegal for anyone who does not hold a licence or permit. For further information, visit Wildlife Victoria. 

Bats

Mega-bats

The grey-headed flying fox (pteropus poliocephaulus), or fruit-bat, is a member of the mega-bat family. Their diet includes nectar, pollen, fruit and leaves of native trees, as well as the fruits and flowers of a range of introduced plants such as fruit trees. They are listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Act 1999 and play an important role in pollination and seed dispersal for a variety of native plant species.

They locate food using sight and smell and travel up to 50km each night from their colony in Yarra Bend Park, although they usually remain within 15km. As more of their natural habitat is cleared for urban development, they are becoming more common in residential areas.

Fruit bats have a reputation of stealing backyard fruit and creating noise when in large numbers. However, they are unlikely to stay in one place for more than a week or two, and may not revisit the same backyard each year. Many flowering or fruiting trees only provide a food source for a short time. Once the food supply is exhausted they are likely to move on.

We encourage residents to only use wildlife-friendly netting in deterring bats from their gardens. Loosely woven netting will trap bats, birds, reptiles and mammals, often resulting in their death. As a rough guide, if you can insert your finger through the netting it is capable of trapping wildlife. If you must net your fruit trees, choose densely woven netting with a mesh size less than 1cm. Ensure your netting is not loosely hanging, securely fix it to the ground or tie it to the base of the tree, and remove them when not required.

Micro-bats

Moonee Valley is also home to the lesser-known micro-bats. Unlike flying foxes or fruit bats, they are smaller, feeding on insects and use echo-location to find their food. Micro-bats will roost in tree hollows or crevices in tree bark during the day, and emerge at night to feed on mosquitos and other insects. Some are capable of eating around half their body weight in insects each night! This makes them extremely effective pest controllers.

You can encourage bats to visit your garden by:

  • Providing a safe roost to sleep during the day and in winter. Large, old trees with hollows or loose bark are ideal
  • Install a bat boxes in sheltered locations
  • Add mulch to your garden and plant a range of indigenous plants to encourage insects
  • Keep your pets inside at night

Injured or sick bats should only be handled by experts, as they could carry diseases transmitted by scratches or bites. If you find an injured or sick bat, please contact Wildlife Victoria on 8400 7300.

Watch this short video from our Bat Discovery Night in Napier Park and visit our Green Living Events page to find out about other events happening across the city.

Last updated: Thursday, 7 March 2019, 5:31 AM