Can I shoot a snake? Your questions answered.

As the temperature increases, our native snakes are coming out of brumation, looking for food sources and to breed. This prompts the question for law-abiding firearms owners, “can I shoot a snake?”

Q. Can I shoot a snake?
A. No. Snakes are protected in NSW and it is unlawful to harm one in any manner.

You may not discharge a firearm for personal protection of yourself or pets. Licenses issued for recreational hunting/vermin control are primarily issued for the hunting of animals listed in Schedule 3 of the Game and Feral Animal Control Act 2002.

Snakes are an important part of the Australian ecosystem. They act as predators, reducing populations of overabundant pest species like rats and mice. Because of this, all native snakes in NSW are protected under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016.

What are my options if I need to remove a snake?
Snakes are not normally aggressive and will only bite when provoked or hurt.  However, you may choose to take action to safeguard yourself against snakes by:
  • Treating all snakes as venomous
  • Giving snakes room to escape
  • Keeping gardens clear of clutter
  • Slashing grass along fences
  • Mowing lawns regularly
  • Snakes hear through vibration, so when mowing the lawn, mow away from the house to avoid directing snakes towards it
  • When bush walking, always wear appropriate shoes and stay on the designated walking tracks
  • NEVER try to catch or kill a snake

If you are having ongoing issues with snakes, or find a trapped/injured snake, contact your local council or certified wildlife handler to safely capture, remove and release back into the wild. A licensed local herpetologist will catch and relocate a snake for a fee.

You can read more about snake removal on the NSW Government environmental site and find your nearest snake catcher on the Reptile Handler List.

Guy is the hunting and program manager for SSAA NSW.