Getting to know the neighbours with Pat McKrill
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes
Following on what I said in the last edition of the Meander Chronicle, about markings on snakes being like fingerprints that stay with the snake for the rest of its life, to illustrate my point, attached to this ramble by a bush happy snake lover, are some pictures of different markings on the well-known Puff Adder, a snake I often get called upon to remove. I feel that if there’s a need to catch and remove them, all snakes, whether potentially dangerous or not, should be caught and bagged immediately without too much fuss, in order to reduce the stress to all parties.
I catch and release a lot of snakes down here in Cato Ridge, and if you relish the opportunity of seeing the Big 5 of snakes, pop in for a cuppa some time. We’ve got boomslang, black mamba, Mozambique cobra, puff adder and python in abundance – particularly at this time of year – but in most cases, whenever I’ve had to catch and bag the snake, it was because of the snake having found its way into a dwelling or confined area of some kind – motor vehicle, cupboard etc. – where it could become a potential danger to people or animals, if it tried to defend itself.
When I lived in Scottburgh, also very much a snake park (no entrance fee required), there too, if there was no immediate danger, I would try to get the person who’d requested its removal, to understand why the
snake was there, and what it was likely to do if left alone – which would inevitably be to head off in the other direction as soon as it’s left alone to do so. If it was an obviously mature snake – more likely to be resident in the area – I always asked my caller if they wanted it removed, or left to carry on doing its job, as it had probably been doing for years, without being noticed, or harming anybody. If they wanted it relocated I’d obviously oblige, but not without explaining the implications of such a course of action – the environmental aspect of its presence. I never mentioned that it would probably be released about 50 metres down the road, knowing that they’d never see it again. To my knowledge, none of
the callers died from snakebite thereafter. Trade secret folks.
In every case of a snake encounter in which I’ve been involved (barring the Vine snake which seems to think that it’s invisible and you’re the one who should move away, not it!), I do not know of any occasions where they have not moved on after a bit of gentle persuasion – arm waving, perhaps a squirt from the hose pipe, or a nudge with the long-handled feather duster. But my advice will always be to leave well alone and to get on with what it was that you were doing – particularly if you’re in an area adjacent to the veld – from whence they’ve come.
© pat mckrill. 2017