Snake Country – Pat McKrill

Shift box. Night adder

Unless you live in a box under the bed, you’ll have noticed that spring has arrived. Days are warming up and the paint brushes are out – there are bolder, brighter colours being splashed about the countryside – nature’s solar panels are being unfurled on every tree – the volume’s getting turned up in the local wetland as the frogs advertise their wares – the birds and butterflies are starting to strut the season’s latest fashions and the porch light’s getting dive-bombed by insects that have the night-driving skills of the average South African driver. Oh yes, I nearly forgot; you-know-who is already up and running (sliding) around the park – there are some hungry snakes already looking to catch up after the winter layoff – so it’s time again to sound the warnings! I love this part because the warnings come as a direct result of real-life experiences I’ve had with people, which sometimes defy belief.

1. Even though you might think you’re bullet-proof (girls, this tip is for the guys), don’t be tempted to pick up any wild snakes unless you don’t mind getting bitten or spat at. Snakes don’t come with safety warnings and they don’t like being picked up, so it’s best to leave them alone. After all, do you feel the urge to stroke all the large cats you see every time you go to a game reserve?
2. Much as you’d get a tetchy reaction from a stray dog if you picked it up by its throat, don’t be surprised if the next snake you ‘humanely capture’ with your home-made snake catcher/ noose or braai tongs, reacts in similar fashion – especially if it’s a spitting cobra. See rule #1
3. For those of you who feel so inclined, take note: trying to get a wriggling snake to go into a bucket can sometimes be quite difficult – it’s a bit like trying to get a ‘specimen’ into a small-necked bottle for your doctor. It can get messy and you’ll need lots of practice and patience before you get it right.
4. Before trying to shoot a snake in a confined area – lounge, kitchen, bedroom, office etc. – get all animals, fellow workers, close relatives and friends to retire out of ricochet range. Remove all irreplaceable artifacts at the same time because there will be collateral damage – guaranteed.
5. When coming across a snake in your house/ car/ caravan etc. try to remember that it got in somehow, usually through an open window or door. Therefore, if you want it to go outside again – which it would try to do if you left it alone – don’t close all the windows and doors.
6. Get to know about the snakes that occur in your area and keep the number of a snake person handy so that you can call on them if the need arises.

Stay focused.

© pat mckrill. 2013
herpet@eastcoast.co.za
Cell: 0833036958
Home: 031-7851410