Snake Country – Pat McKrill

Getting to know the neighbours.

Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

The weather still hasn’t made up its mind, nor has my body for that matter, as to what’s next on the menu. The radical changes in temperature and temperament, ranging from calm to windy, humid to cold, back to warm and wet all in three days, are rather reminiscent of a relationship in need of a therapist. But somehow, I’m pretty sure that, humans aside, the limbless, the hairy, the scaly and the feathered friends that populate the globe, have a far better idea of what’s potting weather-wise – even though they can’t google it like we can. It’s been proven that insects and many other creatures can predict earthquakes and floods well before they happen, so if that’s the case, what’s stopping them from getting to know us and our habits better than we think they do?

The spotted Bush snake that paid a surprise visit to the ironing room.

Although I’ve been told on many occasions about ‘our herald’ that lives under the pool filter cover, or ‘our skaapsteker’ that lives in the rockery along the path, and even ‘our mamba’ – which I’ve had the pleasure of removing from the roof, where it was known to have been resident for some considerable time – I’ve not been told by the same people, of any attacks they’ve suffered from said resident reptiles. The implications to me, are that the snakes can become used to the movements and habits of the homeowners and their families – pets included – to the extent that they seem comfortable with the comings and goings, and strangely enough, vice versa. I am further convinced, that the relatively low ‘hit’ rate in terms of bites on homeowners by resident snakes, is further evidence that apart from the fact they don’t attack us willy-nilly, snakes can in fact settle into a harmonious relationship with homeowners and their entourages. Here on the farm in Cato Ridge, there certainly are resident snakes, among them the Cape file snakes of which there are at least three, and an old friend (pictured in the now familiar to it, release tree), a fair-sized spotted Bush snake that greeted us for the first time this season, with a surprise visit to the ironing room. I have photographs of the same snake from last season, and as a reminder to those who may have chosen to forget, any snake with a pattern, has that for life, much as we have fingerprints – for life.

Because it’s not really itinerant in such a way that it has to keep moving on, the average snake will stick around when the food and accommodation is good, so why not treat yourself to something new and unusual in the new year? Why not start recording the snakes you come across on your patch of paradise, firstly by species (send me a pic and we can work that out), then size, and then specific markings or identifiable features, and try to help me prove that I might be right in my assumption.

Author Pat McKrill. Pic: supplied

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