Slithering Snakes!

A Yellow Cape cobra. Photos: African Snakebite Institute

A Yellow Cape cobra. Photos: African Snakebite Institute

The season for snakes has started and the slithering ones are amongst us. According to Melkbosstrand snake catcher Johann van Tonder snake activity has “risen sharply” in the past two to three weeks. What can one do, asked two experts.

The West Coast is home to the puff adder, the Cape cobra (which is also known as the geelslang), and to a lesser extent, the boomslang. “All of which are very poisonous. They are the ones to be wary of,” says the CEO of the African Snakebite Institute, Johan Marais, with whom our local snake catcher trained.

An old photo of Johan Marais. It shows him handling a albinio Burmese python. Photo: African Snakebite Institute

An old photo of Johan Marais. It shows him handling a albino Burmese python.

What to do when you come upon a snake?
“The best thing is to retreat,” Marais cautions. In the event of your pet coming into contact with a snake, “Remove the animal and if it has been bitten get it to a vet. Boererate such as Allergex, milk and charcoal are of no use at all.” Van Tonder adds that it is important not to get in between your pet and the snake.

There is no way you can keep snakes out of your garden. According to Van Tonder, “They frequent open spaces and nature and gardens are close to nature. They are also attracted to building rubble, compost heaps and the space under wendy houses.”

Nocturnal creatures
As if that is not enough to keep one up at night there is also this. Snakes also come out at night. Marais says that many snakes, amongst which the puff adder, come out at night. It’s a small consolation that the puff adders prefer the area around koppies, rather than town centre. They also enter our holy of holies, namely our homes.
This is because, “they frequently search for food and will slither up to a wall and turn left or right and go through the first opening such as a door as they can’t move further,” Marais explains. Adds Van Tonder, “If you find a snake in your house, keep an eye on it. You’d be amazed where it can hide in a room.”

The Aurora housesnake is harmless. Photo: African Snakebite Institute

The Aurora house snake is harmless.

Snakes can also end up in a car engine if they’re hiding or seeking shelter from the sun. All of this news could make one head for the hills except that’s where puffy hangs out. Van Tonder soothes, “The reality is that the snake is timid and wants to get away from you. It is just as scared of your dog and cat as it is of you. But you have to have respect for it and not make physical contact with it.”

Melkbosstrand snake catcher Johann van Tonder can be contacted on 083 228 3907. The African Snakebite Institute provides a list of snake catchers countrywide.



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