Getting to know the neighbours

Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

Well, I don’t know if you heard the starter’s gun up there in the hills – I’m not talking Comrades, Sani to Sea, or AmaShova – no, I’m talking AmaNyokaNyoka! It certainly got fired (full magazine) about a week ago down here in the lowlands, the industrial hub of the country. Ja boet. I feel the limbless fraternity have grown weary of waiting for the food wagon – kept in the shed because of the miserable cold weather – and they’ve taken the initiative to emerge, come what may.

When hunger pangs start gnawing at an empty stomach, as they say, “you gotta do what you gotta do’’. Because of the testosterone that permeates the atmosphere at this time of the year (talking animal-animals here folks, not you) everybody is out there making babies, which apart from providing a satisfying increase in family numbers, naturally boosts food availability for the predators. As a fortuitous seasonal bonus, for the first time in my life (!) whilst groveling around trying to catch flying ants during a hatching, I witnessed a common garden cricket chase and catch a flying ant and then take it back down the hole. Appears they don’t only eat lawns.

Pat McKrill dealing with a "snake incident"

Pat McKrill dealing with a “snake incident”

In case you’re wondering, the flying ants are to feed the frogs that I catch, to feed the snakes that I keep, in order to teach people to stop killing them unnecessarily. Snakes that is. The frog-eating Night adders, Heralds and Mozambique spitters are out in force at the moment, so if you have the privilege of a chance encounter in the wild with a snake, try not to disturb it, but watch it (film or photograph it) going about its daily routine. You’ll be amazed at their focus, diligence and commitment to the task at hand – something we can all learn from. As we’re all aware, out there in nature, there are no second chances, you’re either alive or you’re dead – no middle ground – therefore everything you do is done with a purpose, and it’s done properly, the first time.

I’ve just finished running a Snake Awareness course for selected employees of a parastatal that has offices country-wide, and the people being trained will ultimately become the ‘go-to’ people in the event of a so-called snake incident. They would have to respond to any SNAKE!!!!! callout, and then either catch and remove it for relocation elsewhere, alternatively, persuade it to go back into the bush, from whence it came.
Making the call on what to do, requires a bit of thought, as in; are there people or animals in the close proximity who could be in danger if I don’t remove it? or; can I just let it go on its way because it poses no threat and/or has a clear escape route back to the bush?” The training is designed to eliminate as best as possible, the option that most of us might decide upon, the worst option, that of; “kill it”.

© pat mckrill. 2016
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958