How to survive snake season in Ballito

Neville Wolmarans shows off one of the Cobras from the Ndlodlo Reptile Park.

It’s that time of year again when Dolphin Coast residents start finding snakes literally coming out of the woodwork.

While a healthy respect for – and even fear of snakes is often wise, it is important to recognise that snakes are not ‘out to get you.’

Neville Wolmarans of the Ndlondlo Reptile Park told The Courier that the majority of call-outs he attends in this area are for bush snakes, heralds, adders and cobras – with the occasional mamba to keep things interesting.

“People tend to panic when they see a snake,” says Wolmarans, “and often it is the poor snake that ends up being killed – though many of them are harmless.”

A Green Mamba.

A Green Mamba (stock photo).

There are several professionals in the area who remove snakes from houses and the like, with the team from Ndlodlo Reptile Park the most recognisable.

“When we remove a snake from a home or business we bring it back to the reptile park where we measure and weigh it as well as checking that the creature is in good health, before eventually releasing it back into the wild,” Wolmarans explained.

Wolmarans advises the following steps be taken if you unexpectedly find a snake in your home/office:

  • Maintain a visual – don’t lose track of where the snake is!
  • If possible take a photo of the snake in order to identify it (Wolmarans will identify pictures sent to him on Whatsapp).
  • Don’t try to handle the snake yourself!
  • Call a professional immediately (they can’t remove a snake a week after you’ve spotted it…)
  • Remember that it is not their objective to remove harmless snakes – as they are a healthy part of the environment.

“Once you are aware of the snake’s presence it shouldn’t pose a threat to you – snakes only bite people as a defensive measure.”

“If you don’t approach or aggravate it, it will most likely leave you alone,” warns Wolmarans, “Trying to kill it would be an example of aggravating it.”

 

There isn’t much to be done as a deterrent to keep snakes away – urban myths of cleaning fluids or disinfectants in the garden are exactly that, but Wolmarans did say that the best way to prevent a scaly surprise is to keep a clean, tidy house.

“Snakes like dark corners and hidy-holes, so try to keep spaces free of clutter. Don’t leave food etc. lying around as this attracts insects and rodents that the snakes prey on.”

There are just as many urban myths detailing what to do in the unlikely event that you are bitten – and they are as unlikely to help as Jeyes Fluid is to keep snakes away.

A Black Mamba (stock photo).

A Black Mamba (stock photo).

 

In the event of a snake bite, Wolmarans advises the following measures be taken immediately:

  • Wipe the spot where the snake bit you.
  • Draw a circle around the bite so doctors can easily isolate the puncture wounds.
  • Note the time you were bitten.
  • Phone ahead to the hospital with a description of the snake so they can prepare an anti-venom.
  • Do not attempt to kill or capture the snake it as this could just lead to more bites.

 

Lastly, it is important not to view snakes with an irrational fear (though it’s often not a matter of choice) – they are a crucial part of a healthy and thriving eco-system and at the end of the day are likely to be more afraid of you than you are of them.

For everything snake related – or if you need a snake removed from your property, contact Neville Wolmarans on 082 561 4969, Helen Bauermeister on 079 453 3557 or David Hoehler on 078 639 8356.

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Allan Troskie
Journalist

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