SNAKE sightings are increasing as temperatures rise and new housing estates invade rural areas, wildlife experts say. Recent rising temperatures have seen sightings flourish, after the reptiles emerged from hibernation in early summer. A 48-year-old woman was bitten in Tuen Mun last week, while a snake catcher caught a three-metre king cobra in Sai Kung. On Tuesday, a 1.5-metre king cobra was found in a Tseung Kwan O estate store room. On Thursday, Sai Kung residents said they watched as eight men pulled snakes out of a stream in Sha Kok Mei and stored them in buckets. No official figure is available on the number caught this year, but experts say sightings seem to be on the rise. 'Not many people used to live in rural areas. Now, as we build into these areas, snake sightings can be more common,' said Kadoorie Farm conservation officer Bosco Chan Pui-lok. 'Also, as we invade these areas, the snakes' habitat is disturbed. It may be more difficult for them to look for food so they come further out.' Snakes are defensive and only attack when cornered, he said. Anyone who encountered one should retreat slowly or call police, Mr Chan said. If bitten, sit down, ask someone to get seek medical help and do not smoke. 'Physical exertion will pump the adrenalin faster through your body,' he said. 'Death from a snake bite is extremely rare. Snakes only inject a small amount of venom. For people to die from a bite, the snake would have to inject a huge amount of venom, which seldom happens. 'People complain of headaches after being bitten, these are mostly psychological. The poison does not work that quickly, it usually takes three to four hours,' said Mr Chan. At present, only the python is protected in Hong Kong. Captured pythons are given to the Agriculture and Fisheries Department which, for the past six years, has freed them on the mainland. Department Endangered Species Protection Officer Cheung Chi-sun said pythons used to be freed in the New Territories and outlying islands, but the local environment was now unsuitable for them to survive.