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    SO WHAT DO YOU DO?

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    An ongoing series exploring unusual careers in the inner-west of Melbourne.
    by Belle Hann.

    Stewart Gatt: professional snake catcher

    As a kid, Stewart Gatt was obsessed with reptiles. He spent most of his childhood chasing lizards and turning over rocks in the hope of catching a new specimen. Not surprisingly, the late Steve Irwin was young Stewart’s hero.

    Yet his parents were not so keen on their son’s scaly friends. They banned him from owning a snake until he turned eighteen. The very day of his eighteenth birthday, Stewart rocked up to a reptile shop to buy his first snake. The man behind the counter must have seen a certain spark in the young fellow’s eye, and said “How ‘bout I show you how to be a snake catcher?” And ‘Stewy the Snake Catcher’ was born.

    Years later, Stewy the Snake Catcher is a well-known expert in the western region of Melbourne with over ten years of experience and specialised training in venomous handling. In addition to house calls, he has been hired to catch snakes in such esteemed places as the MCG and the Docklands Stadium.

    On the day we speak, he’d already taken two phone calls about snakes. “More snakes go undetected than you’d believe,” he says. “It’s not unusual to see tiger snakes, even in places like Collingwood.”

    How do people react when they find out he catches snakes for a living? “People look at me weird,” he says. “You also get asked a million questions, like ‘has a snake ever bitten you?’”

    So I have to ask: “has a snake ever bitten you?”

    “Only once,” he says. “I’ve caught so many bloody snakes. You get to judge their next move and when you get to know the job, you get good at it.”

    Stewy also feels a professional responsibility to dispel myths and misconceptions about snakes.

    “Each snake that we catch is away from someone with a shovel who wants to kill it,” he says. “People grew up with the wrong idea about snakes and sometimes say things like ‘the only good snake is a dead snake’. But snakes are an important part of the ecosystem and aren’t as dangerous as people think.”

    To help educate the public, Stewy also hosts snake encounters at special events like birthday parties. This is a great way for people to get to know snakes better, and the big python always proves to be a hit.

    “(Being a snake catcher) has its challenges,” Stewy says. “Not one day is the same exactly. But I absolutely love my job.”  

    Follow Stewy’s snake catching adventures on facebook: Stewysnakecatcher

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    1 COMMENT

    1. Stewart you are one game bloke. If I came across a snake I would make Usain Bolt’s 9.58 seconds for the 100 meters seem like a jog.

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