Snake Country – Heads Up
I don’t know about you, but it feels like I’ve only just crossed August off the calendar and lo and behold, it’s back again! Standing on the porch overlooking the vast expanse of blue hills and brown valleys below, I glance down at what once passed for a lawn – the grass is so dry that it looks like somebody’s chucked the contents of a box of Weet-bix on the floor. Even though I have a tendency to exaggerate occasionally, this time I’m serious; you know it’s been a hard dry winter when the birds – some of them theatrically holding their throats and pointing at their open mouths like near-death travellers who’ve been lost in the desert – follow you and the watering can as you head towards the bird bath, yelling “Get a move on boy!” Even the pot plants have started queuing at the back door, gagging for water, but I’m of the opinion that a little bit of drought never really hurt anybody, it actually helps to toughen us up. Anyway, it shouldn’t be long now though, I reckon I can almost smell the rain. Come on spring!
The valley will soon start to green up along the river lines, and by the time you or the budgie reads this, mid-August will have arrived, heralding the sightings of the returning YBKs, the speculative croaks of the early-rising male guttural toads, and the growing crescendo of rumbling stomachs belonging to every toad eating snake in the province, eager to get out there and start hunting again. But it won’t be just the toad-eating snakes though; nosiree, all shapes, sizes and colours will be popping out of their hiding places in search of a hearty start up meal, putting every other creature in the province on red alert!
I suppose I shouldn’t put it like that, after all I’m the one who keeps telling you to relax and enjoy the privilege of the occasional unscheduled encounter with a snake, nevertheless just stay focused, the time is nigh. I’m sure that there will be those amongst you who have over the years become more acclimatised to and slightly more relaxed during any sudden encounters with snakes – even with some of the more common potentially harmful residents in your area – puff adders, rinkhals, and Mozambique spitters come to mind – yet these ‘tricky’ ones aside, there will also be plenty of other not-so-tricky species to tick off, such as the night adder, herald, skaapsteker, short snouted sand snake, brown water snake, mole snake (if you’re lucky) and of course, the energetic green jobs, the spotted bush snakes, the Natal greens, the green water snakes and again, if you’re lucky, the occasional male boomslang. I say “if you’re lucky” because sightings of these snakes are unusual and when they do get seen, they’re often misidentified. Take care, and enjoy the privilege.
© pat mckrill. 2014