Getting to know the neighbours
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

I know that I speak with authority when I say that I’m not the only one who loves this time of the year. There must be at least two others out there who feel the same.
It’s 8 o’clock at night and I have the privilege to be sitting on my stoep, looking at a pitch black screen that will tomorrow transform into the most wonderful landscape. I’m also listening to the sounds that tell me that nature is alive and well. There are bubbling Kassinas (frogs that I’ve not seen this far south previously) ‘boiping’ from the dam below – a mere puddle two weeks ago – and all manner of crickets and other night insects doing their thing, chirping away in the warm spring air. The sounds paint a picture that no master could, I’ll leave it to you to visualise, but the earth around you is alive with new life – plants, animals, insects, you name it, and they all feel the same as me – literally full of the joys of spring.

Kassina senegalensis  Senegal kassina© 2011 Martin Pickersgill

Kassina senegalensis
Senegal kassina© 2011 Martin Pickersgill

Perhaps for some, there would be a downside. There will be an increase in the mozzie population, moths will be dive-bombing the soup, and the guttural toads on a maiden-calling mission will be drowning out all forms of conversation – not necessarily meaningful, and there will certainly be an increase in the activity of the limbless ones – all emerging from their winter park-off, not necessarily a hibernation, in the local hollow tree, the ant bear hole down the road, or in your now seldom used letterbox, rendered redundant by e.mail, Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve been fortunate to have done some travelling outside of our borders recently, to neighbouring countries – I’ve been to Zambia, Zim and Namibia – all of whom seem to have long since discovered the futility and tragic waste of destroying every reminder of colonialism in their countries, and I must say that it’s been a pleasure not to have to wade through piles of discarded plastic bottles, packets and KFC cartons, an environment we Safricans seem to take for granted. Car guard? Eh what? What has also pleased me immensely, is that the people in these countries were continually expressing their desire to learn more about environmental matters that affect them, and surprisingly, snakes are now on their list of good things! The timing for my travels recently has been perfect, and I received a number of calls to go with my hosts and check out the odd local resident that had wandered into someone’s home or garden, and been greeted by a camera at the ready, rather than by the garden spade, confirming for me that no matter what country we find them, and because snakes all seem to work from the same handbook, we really can come to terms with them if we just think about it for a minute. Take care, take pictures.
© pat mckrill. 2016 herpet@eastcoast.co.za Cell: 0833036958