Woman of the Year: Pittwater wildlife carer Lynleigh Greig

WHAT A WOMAN: Elanora Heights' Lynleigh Greig with an injured red-bellied black snake. Picture: Geoff Jones
WHAT A WOMAN: Elanora Heights' Lynleigh Greig with an injured red-bellied black snake. Picture: Geoff Jones

Snakes, spiders and scaly lizards - that's just the start of getting to know Pittwater Woman of the Year Lynleigh Greig. 

"When I found out I was Pittwater Woman of the Year I must have asked them at least three times if they had the right person, I was like 'are you sure, did you not mean someone else?'. I was very, very, very surprised, gobsmacked.

I got treated like a rock star which is very unusual because I spend most of my days covered in spiderwebs and faeces and mud and blood and puss and all kinds of disgusting things. To be treated differently, other than be ushered down the side of someone's property to go and pick up something they don't want in their backyard, was much nicer.

I'm a wildlife carer with Sydney Wildlife Rescue and there's different rescuers for different animals. Once we do the initial rescue and care course then you can specialise in certain species - you might want to specialise in bats or you might want to specialist in macropods like kangaroos, I specialise in snakes. I just love them. It probably stems from a time when my sister and I were little because I don't think anyone is born scared of snakes it gets drummed into you by people around you.

I grew up in Zimbabwe where we had a massive property and there were heaps of little critters that would go wandering throughout our property. My sister and I would find everything, hedgehogs, tortoises, squirrels, monkeys you name it we would find them, everything got picked up, fed and sent on its way.

My husband never dreamed in 50 bazillion years that he'd live in a house full of snakes. He doesn't like them.

Lynleigh Greig

We were at this plant nursery and saw this beautiful snake just slithering by completely minding its own business, no interest in us at all because we were neither food or a threat so it just wandered past. Then, one of the staff members of the plant nursery just smashed it on the head with a shovel and we were just absolutely mortified and all of its innards went flying.

My sister and I both decided at that moment to be an advocate for them. My sister is a rescuer and snake handler in Africa, so on opposite sides of the world we do pretty much the same thing. People say 'they're so dangerous', but they're only dangerous if you're bugging them.

My husband never dreamed in 50 bazillion years that he'd live in a house full of snakes, he doesn't like them. Sometimes we've got one of our patients like a diamond python just wrapped around the handrail or something just having a little bit of time out of its enclosure, and he'll be walking down the stairs and we hear this 'arghhh!' and we know he's spotted the snake.

The weirdest thing about what I do is that if you open up my freezer there's roadkill, dead rats, meal worms, crickets. My pantry is full of really gross stuff.

WHAT A WOMAN: Elanora Heights' Lynleigh Greig with an injured eastern long neck turtle. Picture: Geoff Jones

WHAT A WOMAN: Elanora Heights' Lynleigh Greig with an injured eastern long neck turtle. Picture: Geoff Jones

A lot of people say 'is it because you get to cuddle cute little things' but that's only about one per cent of our day. The rest of the time we're crawling under spidery decks to grab some poor maimed creature that's got a maggot infested wound or climbing up in a roof top to crash around looking for something that was maybe 10 days ago, or pulling something off the road to check its pouch.

We do it because the very brief interaction you have with a wild creature is just so different from any kind of interaction you have with a domesticated animal. A domesticated animal wants to love you and enjoys the pats and the licks but a wild animal is almost allowing you the privilege of crossing paths with it and I love that.

With the release, some patients you cannot wait to see the the back of like lace monitors. Lace monitors are very difficult patients, they're difficult to handle because they've got their mouth, their claws their whippy tail, their sandpaper skin - everything about them is difficult to handle. They don't like to be in care and you pretty much just have to feed them roadkill.

In the case of little possums that you're raised from 50 grams it's quite hard to see them go, it does make you feel a bit heartsore, but proud, it's like seeing your kid leave home."

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