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Snake Country – Pat McKrill


Getting to know the neighbours
Working toward a stress-free co-existence with snakes

I’m about to try and put a positive spin on what is, in the minds of many people, their worst nightmare. But sometimes I question that. I’ve just stood up, from kissing the earth and thanking my maker for delivering me safely home once more, from THE most fearful thing in my life. A drive on a South African road. It’s pure mayhem out there folks, and the killing no longer has seasonal peaks. The reason? Humans.

Speaking of mayhem, I suppose I can only guess what might have been going through the heads of those people who send me pictures of snakes they’ve encountered, accompanied by various mitigatory tags. ‘Hey Pat, what was this? We had to kill it the other day, it was – under the fridge/stalking the kids/spitting at the garden fellow/heading for the car’. Whatever.
I’m not the sentimental kind, but to get so many pictures of mutilated creatures, those that I virtually devote my every waking minute to saving from such a fate, can be somewhat unnerving. I’m going to continue on my mission, no matter what it takes, to try and get as many people to cross their mental Rubicon, and join me – if they haven’t already – in a quest to minimise or substantially curtail, the totally unwarranted slaughter of these amazing, and very important creatures. Our South African snakes.

Birds, when they notice a snake heading in the direction of the nest, alert all those around them, and the resultant cacophony of abuse that gets hurled at the snake is a great indicator of teamwork, as the harried snake turns and heads away, to try somewhere else.

The birds have a reason, the snake was more than likely there, to eat them, the kids or their eggs. Other animals will similarly, gang up on a snake that’s looking for a meal, if they know they’re on its list. Animals know the things that they need to avoid, and they apply the fight or flight action when necessary. Eat or get eaten. Humans aside, no animals – unless in a state of extreme panic, say, a mamba in a chicken run that’s full of panicking, squawking chickens – gratuitously kill everything about them without reason.

The human need to kill snakes, is passed on, generation to generation, with virtually no logic applied to the action. Why would a Slug eater want to bite you? Do you smell like a slug? Is the feisty little 30cm Herald snake you uncovered in the woodpile, actually going to leap up and bite you? The green snake crossing the lawn – where’s it going? To kill grandma on the verandah? To take the engine out of the car? What’s it doing at your place anyway? Was it sent there on a mission? Or was it perhaps the fact that you’ve got geckoes all over the place, and it happens to eat geckoes.
Please folks, apply some logic to the action you’re about to take – put the shovel back in the shed.

© pat mckrill. 2018
Cell: 0833036958


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Technology and teaching

Kevin Khumalo

Kevin Khumalo SPCA Hero