Oh, what a night!

Getting to know the neighbours

By Pat McKrill

OK. So my Christmas started early this year. November the 20th to be exact, about 6.30pm.

I was pottering around in the garden, collecting kindling for a stir fry on the braai, watching the birds settling in for the night, listening to the frogs and crickets starting up their engines, and checking out the early stars – you know, the sort of things we all do at the end of a hard day at the coalface. Ja.

I decided it was time to grab a bitterly cold one and sort out the supper, which I’d enjoy while watching the gecko-fest around the verandah light. Summer at last. Sigh.

Dormitorius lodgerensus

As I walked into my dimly lit cottage, I noticed a strange shape in the doorway leading to the spare bedroom. Upon closer inspection, it turned out to be a night adder (Causus rhombeatus) about 600mm in length, facing off with a guttural toad (Amietophrynus gutturalis) that it had caught in the guest bedroom (Dormitorius lodgerensus).

I confidently say that it had caught the toad in the bedroom, because wild snakes are not like cats, they don’t bring stuff inside to play with. They play with it where they find it.

The snake had already injected its venom, and was now contemplating its next move – which would have been to swallow the frog at its leisure, then head back to park off under the bed.

It would stay there for a few days before exiting the house – normally undetected – with a more manageable waistline. That’s what they do folks. Promise.

Night adder v toad… guess who won?

I took a couple of pics, then I gently stepped over it and put a shift-box behind it, into which it happily backed up, toad ‘n all. No one was attacked or died in the process. Except the frog.

More articles by Pat McKrill

I’ve previously covered similar scenarios on snakes in buildings in my articles over the years, and some of you might remember some of the tell-tale precursors to this special event (you can pay to see the Big 5 in a morning, but for the same money, you’ll battle to find a game ranger who can show you this sort of thing in the wild).

Firstly, there has to be a magnet or two. Accommodation (such as infrequently used areas) and/or a food item such as a lizard, mouse, frog etc. that’s chosen to live in-house, having also been attracted by the same magnets, accommodation and food.

Rule No 1 for snake season

Foraging snakes mainly hunt in their home locality, and mostly at night, using their tongues to gather clues, namely, the scent of the animal that’s entered your house. This is where a good – subtly scented – snake repellent (intelligently applied) serves its purpose by keeping inquisitive snakes out.

Beware; some commonly used household cleaners might repel snakes, but they can also repel friends because they make your home smell like King’s Park gents toilet at half time in the main game.

Heed the tell-tale clues, have fun.

Contact info: 083 303 6958; herpet@eastcoast.co.za