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SNAKE COUNTRY: When everything changes, some things stay the same

Getting to know the neighbours: working towards a stress-free coexistence with snakes

Here's looking at you! A Mozambique spitting cobra.

By Pat McKrill

Assuming we’re not all brain dead, we must surely accept that this has been the only truly life-changing event in our lifetimes. Nothing has come close to what the world’s experiencing now – everybody confined to barracks?

So let’s ask, apart from thanking those essential workers, what have the rest of us been doing with our lives over the last 90-plus days? Sudoku? Exercising in the passageway? Trying to fix things around the house? Exchanging regurgitated non-facts and faux statistics with our social media friends? How many of us could honestly answer, “I’ve continued training my brain?”

In the world of the human, it’s highly likely that when (if) we get back to normality, many people, particularly employers, will notice a marked drop-off in productivity, cognitive and tactile skills. It will take time for us to return to normality and to recover our ability to communicate meaningfully. Although many will soon get back to where they left off, there’ll be those who’ll have simply forgotten much of what they’ve learnt. Sigh.

For now, maybe we should live life in the moment

Meanwhile, in the undergrowth, with life going on as usual, has come a wider choice of accommodation (empty buildings, unused vehicles etc) and other beneficial spinoffs that I mentioned in April.

Recently I’ve had calls regarding what’s being seen by some as an increase in snake activity around the home, but don’t forget that apart from the standard annual pre-winter increase in activity for mating and bulking up on food (referring to snake activity), we’ve now got to consider the unplanned introduction of the home-bound human.

Normally most of us would have missed a lot of that movement, having been at work or school or otherwise occupied. Suddenly, come lockdown 2020, where are we? We are finally becoming aware of what’s been happening all along.

Last week I had a call from a friend living nearby to come and look for what he said was a snake that his Jack Russell was trying to root out.

Those coronavirus rumours

As a registered snake-remover under the current rules (fame at last), I responded, and spent considerable time in his garden, turning over everything that could be turned over and inspecting every bush, hole and drainpipe that Jack and his mate were excitedly showing me, to no avail.

The dogs eventually lost interest and moved off. I returned home, only to receive a call a couple of hours later to tell me that both dogs had been spat at by a Mozambique cobra. I told him to check for bite wounds and wash the dogs thoroughly, not just the eyes.

I’ve said before, all snakes are hide-and-seek experts – the burrowers are world leaders.

The dogs are now fully recovered (snake still around), prompting me to remind all dog-owners that all dogs, even the Jack Russell, can be trained to avoid and not attack snakes.

And while we’re working on sharpening the dog’s brains, let’s not forget that they’re possibly not the only ones in need of some of that.

Contact Pat on 0833036958 or email herpet@eastcoast.co.za

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These legs are made for walking