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Four Mozambique cobras, two black mambas, two boomslang, two puff adders and a python – in 10 days!

Getting to know the neighbours

Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

By Pat McKrill

February already!! Can we slow down please? I’m running out of time to do what I need to do!

Besides having to pack boxes for a month-end house move, I’ve been experiencing one of the most hectic starts to any year I can recall.

I’ve never known the amount of snake activity that I’m seeing and hearing about now. I don’t go searching for snakes that have made their way into a human’s life anymore, but I’ve really had no choice of late because of the number of calls I’m receiving from those who know me.

Here’s an example of what I’ve removed in 10 days: four Mozambique cobras, two black mambas, two boomslang, two puff adders and a python – the serpentine equivalent of the Big 5! That’s excluding the more common house snakes and spotted bush snakes that have also been removed.

Temperatures

My contention has always been – with good reason in most cases – that a sharp increase in multi species activity is usually due to food availability, but the recent activity, as far as I’m concerned, directly relates to the daytime temperatures we’re experiencing, which have been far in excess of those to which we’ve become accustomed.

Snakes cannot tolerate temperatures in excess of the high 30s for extended periods and would normally look for cooler shelter – hollow tree trunks, under rocks, in your kitchen etc, and I strongly suggest you become more aware of this possibility on particularly hot days.

Speaking of things to become aware of, how about something completely different and a tad less stressful for those of you with snake phobias?

I’m hoping to reel in a few responses from some of the keener indigenous gardeners, who spend much of their time in the natural environment. Have you ever considered that animals might try to hone their crafts with a bit of homework and practice?

I’ve read about certain animals doing this and I’ve seen parent birds teaching (teasing) their fledglings to fly (wobble) from point A to point B, often with a morsel thrown in as an incentive.

I know that cats teach their young how to hunt and kill by giving them a live prey animal to practice with, but until sometime last year, I didn’t know that weaver birds practised weaving.

Despite many futile attempts to get input on the matter from experts, I’m now asking you, the reader, to let me know if you’ve ever witnessed this phenomenon.

All around my present piece of paradise I can find examples of their handywork, mostly on fences, along with a couple of “test-nest starters” attached to sundry branches hidden in the undergrowth. In some places, there are rows of practice knots, made by different individuals, as if it were a contest. A Feathered Friends Facebook?

Contact Pat McKrill on 083 303 6958 or email herpet@eastcoast.co.za.

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