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Snakes and crocodiles as storms rain down

RAIN-BATTERED residents in northeastern Australia were on alert yesterday for snakes in their bathrooms and crocodiles on the road following repeated storms that have sent local wildlife in search of dry land or a safe haven.

More than half of Queensland was declared a disaster area on Tuesday because of the rains that started in late December and are expected to continue.

In the state's hardest-hit town, Ingham, David Harkin was preparing to evacuate after watching floods wash through his two-level home. He said he'd seen several snakes around his home since the latest storm hit on Sunday.

Some 2,900 homes have been damaged in Ingham and hundreds of people evacuated to a temporary shelter.

In the coastal city of Townsville, floods were blamed for washing a freshwater crocodile into the street ?? where it got run over.

The 1.6-meter crocodile survived and was being treated for an injured eye and several broken teeth.

Wildlife Carers volunteer Lana Allcroft said the service had been overwhelmed with injured and displaced animals since the floods began.

"A lady rang up this morning and said she had a snake in her bathroom. I said, 'Well, I've got a crocodile in mine'," Allcroft said. "We've had wallabies, curlews, snakes and flying foxes, and that's just this morning."

The Queensland Environmental Protection Agency has warned residents to watch out for wildlife on roads and in their yards.

"Crocodiles might move about looking for a quiet place to wait for floodwaters to recede and snakes may swim into peoples' properties," agency officer Brian Wright said.

Deputy Premier Paul Lucas, who visited Ingham yesterday, said he didn't believe the ground could cope with more rain.

"It's like pouring water over a wet towel," Lucas said.

Ingham had received 366 millimeters of rain in 24 hours by yesterday morning, on top of more than 400 millimeters in the previous days.


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