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VELDTALK ARTICLE: MARCH 2015
Snakes immediately divide people into three categories. There is the Kill Them! brigade and the Revere All Life champions and the Ummm, It Depends... rank and file. The snake population explosion in the Rhenosterspruit Nature Conservancy during February drew the battle lines through gardens, homes and outbuildings.
“On 12 February my horse was bitten by a snake in our stables,” said Morag Pricken of Laezonia. “It disappeared but the next day we spotted it again. We chased after it and it shot into a box in the workshop.
“We hurriedly closed the box and contacted Mike Perry of African Reptiles and Venom for help. He quickly caught the snake - a 1.8 m long Snouted cobra. He was pleased to get this cobra, which was in very good condition, because he is writing a book on snakes and planned to photograph it for illustration.
And the horse? “She is doing very well and will make a full recovery!” says Morag.
Cathrine Versfeld from Hennops River says: “I'm so used to my son's rubber snakes and lizards lying around the house, I almost picked up a huge (and very real) scaled thing out of the bath! I ran squealing out of there like a Northern province teenager at a Dozi concert!”
Jan Horn, from Hills and Dales, faces a rather complicated situation. A Night adder was seen entering his library at speed and in seconds it had disappeared behind the books, which line three sides of the room almost up to the ceiling. Attempts to lure the snake with a frog have been unsuccessful so far. The snake seems to like its literary surroundings and the door stays firmly shut. Any advice out there?
Thandi Brewer lives on the northern slope of the Schurveberg. Confronted by a Spitting cobra in her bathroom, she called a neighbour who managed to get the snake into a cooler box.
Her post on Facebook elicited several smart comments. Responding to a request for a photo of the snake, Thandi replied: “The cobra was too stressed for us to open the cooler box for a photo op. But it nearly filled the cooler box so that should give you an idea of its size!” Quipped a friend: “The cobra was stressed...so he put it into the cooler to chill?”
In Hills and Dales Anthony Duigan reported an invasion of Night adders at their place. “We’ve also been inundated by frogs and the snakes have had a feast. One of the Night adders we found had had an early ‘breakfast’ and was not inclined to defend itself. We dropped it in the veld to sleep it off.” (Mode: Revere All Life.)
“A few days earlier I went into the garage (bare-footed) and stepped on another Night adder. I’m not sure who moved fastest - me, to get out of the garage, or the snake, which shot under a cupboard. It’s still there, somewhere. A fourth Night adder was found among the pot plants on the stoep, slithering in pursuit of a desperate frog. Our dog alerted us to a fifth adder which we caught and escorted off the property. A huge Mozambique spitting cobra arrived afterwards - just to add to the variety.” (Mode: Umm, It Depends…)
In Hennops River, Cheryl Christie’s dog, Matthew, heads up the Kill Them! Brigade. “In spite of having been bitten twice by cobras he is utterly fearless and moves like lightning. Unless we get to the snake first, no reptile stands a chance.”