Getting to know the neighbours –
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes
The New Year started off with a bang, as it does every year, but the bangs have got bigger as our neighbours find more inventive ways of disguising industrial explosives as festive poppers. I’ve discovered – thank you Tony Soprano – that by facing my 5000 watt speakers at their bedroom every night for the following week, and playing Beatles music at full volume, I can engender a change of mindset in my fun-loving neighbour on festive occasions.
Our limbless friends fortunately do not have this problem to deal with as they’re deaf, and although they might feel the vibrations from the bigger bangs, they won’t, we’re led to believe, have the frightening decibels to cope with. Let it not be said however, that they can’t make a hell of a noise when they want to – ask anyone who’s had the life frightened out of them by sudden loud hissing from an invisible Puff Adder or Black Mamba warning its way out of trouble. We can add to the list of noisy snakes, a well-known midlands resident, the ubiquitous Rinkhals. Just prior to Christmas, I was asked to remove one such dude, from a neatly stacked wood pile in an open-sided outbuilding up in the Loteni area. As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t usually respond to snake callouts, unless they’re really interesting, but the occasional Rinkhals will always be interesting. On arrival, I was met by the hostage (I’ll stick to my ‘no names’ rule) who had waited patiently for my arrival, to ensure that the visitor didn’t do the standard snake ‘Houdini’ whilst backs were turned. He pointed out where our frog-hunting star had last been seen, and although I didn’t see it until the final break from cover, there was no question as to its location. Some serious “don’t come any closer!” hissing was emanating from the woodpile, and this happened every time I removed a log from the pile. I’m not into the movie star type of furniture throwing when looking for snakes under cover, they have the tendency to remain hidden for as long as possible, only moving when absolutely necessary, and groveling around on hands and knees, peering into hidey holes whilst looking for a spitting snake, is not clever – ask any guy with a white cane. So, it was a case of removing the cover, log by log, until the fugitive had no choice but to bolt into the open, which it did whilst simultaneously presenting me with its piece de resistance, a magnificent “now you’re in trouble!” hood that flashed the reason for its name – Rinkhals, or as they say in the journals, Ring-Necked Spitting Cobra. It’s a pity about the baggage that goes with it, or any snake for that matter, because it’s a magnificent creature! Had it been left alone, it would have slunk off later – probably never to be seen again.
© pat mckrill. 2017