When she heard a hissing sound coming from her kitchen, an Australian woman thought one of her appliances had gone haywire. Venturing toward the sound, however, she looked down to see the head of a venomous snake poking out from beneath her fridge.
Horrified by the sight of her unwelcome guest, the Sydney resident called Cory Kerewaro, a professional snake catcher from Reptile Relocation Sydney. Upon his arrival, Kerewaro and the homeowner worked together to carefully pull the refrigerator away from the wall.
With the appliance out of the way, they had a clear view of the culprit: a large red-bellied black snake, the reptile clearly alarmed by the sudden loss of its warm hiding place.
Why Would a Snake Hide Behind a Refrigerator?
While it might seem a strange place for a venomous snake to sleep, Kerewaro explained that refrigerators actually provide an ideal environment for the limbless reptiles. As ideal as they can find outside of their natural habitat, anyway.
“[Snakes] like tight dark spaces, as they associate that with safety,” he told Newsweek. “And under a fridge, or at the back of a fridge where the motor is, is normally tight, dark, and warm, so the snake feels safe.”
But with so many rocks, tree stumps, and caves to hide in outside, why would the venomous snake settle for a refrigerator? Well, as it rests in the southern hemisphere, Australia’s summer falls between December and February. So while it’s just starting to warm up here in the States, it’s been sweltering for months Down Under.
Snakes do enjoy the warmth of the sun, but even cold-blooded critters can become overheated in summer. “As the snakes can’t regulate their temperature like us humans, they can overheat quite easily,” Kerewaro explained.
“So when a snake is trying to move away from the heat and it’s moving along a wall, they push into any hole they can to try to get into a cooler area. Unfortunately for snakes, they can’t tell the difference between a rock wall in the creek/bush to a brick wall of a house, so sometimes they end up pushing inside to cool down.”
Is the Venomous Red-Bellied Black Snake Dangerous?
With “venomous” prefacing the name, the red-bellied black snake is obviously somewhat dangerous. But how dangerous? What would happen, should a red belly sink its fangs into a hand or foot?
For its size, the red belly is among the least dangerous venomous snake in Australia, if not the least dangerous. While they’re behind around 16% of snake bites in the country annually, there are no recorded deaths from a red belly’s bite.
That doesn’t mean, however, that you should fearlessly approach one. Though they aren’t particularly skittish, a red belly can still cause painful wounds with significant side effects when threatened.
“Red-bellied black snakes are normally a pretty chilled-out animal and tolerate people when they aren’t too close,” Kerewaro said. “If you do approach them, they can do a couple of things but the majority just take off as quick as possible. Some will flatten their neck out as a defensive display and move away slowly and some just try and hide under the nearest object.”