Getting to know the neighbours.

Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

Wednesday September 6th, 18.25pm, I’m on my verandah on the Old Coffee Farm in Cato Fridge, cold beer in one hand, mind in neutral. It’s been a balmy day, and the noise coming up from the little dam, or rather, pond, down below me is the unmistakable ‘growl’ of the guttural toads, the first chorus I’ve heard this season. The calls rise to a crescendo as they begin their early-season nuptial serenades, calling the girls to their carefully chosen call-sites. For me, the arrival of the YBK’s in mid-August, is merely the harbinger of what’s to come, but the frog calling means only one thing; the starting gun has been fired – spring is truly here. The breeding, growing, eating, laying, flowering and singing that’s been on hold since mid-May – can now begin in earnest.

Heralds have a thing about human buildings!

This flurry of activity comes with T’s and C’s as they say on the packet, and I’m sure that some of you might already have spotted your favourite (?) garden snake, making a tentative foray out into the open, for a bit of much needed sun and an energy boost. The early risers are usually the night adders, heralds and bush snakes, but the rest will be just around the corner. I’ve already had reports of egg eaters and slug eaters, an indication that the birds are laying and the vegie garden is getting unwanted visitors by way of slugs and snails. I’m hoping that by now, most of you will have begun to understand the reason you get snakes as visitors, and will have started to come to terms with them, as being an integral part of life in a snake-populated country. The T’s and C’s I speak of relate to the simple rules that apply when encountering snakes, and here they are again.
Stand still and don’t pick them up. Give them the respect they deserve, they are like any other wild creature, and could be tempted to defend themselves if they feel threatened. Having been around for millions of years, snakes don’t necessarily see all other creatures as a threat – but they do see movement as being worthy of note, which is why, as a first resort, they will try to hide, either by fleeing or withdrawing unobtrusively.
If a snake doesn’t flee or react to your presence, it might have got used to you, or it could be sleeping. A snake encountered out in the open should not necessarily be regarded as a threat to your family or your animals, and if left alone, it will go about its business as a biological control agent, without any fuss. The fact that the next snake you see might be venomous, doesn’t mean it will attack you – it will do the same as all the others – see above, and having venom doesn’t make them bad tempered. If you really want to rid your surrounds of snakes, I believe that either New Zealand or Ireland are great places to go and live. Not as much fun though.

 

© pat mckrill. 2017
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958