Spring heralds more snake killings

2016-09-13 06:00

Too many harmless snakes coming down from nature reserves into people’s gardens are being killed unnecessarily, especially as they become more active during spring.

So said snake lover Deon Oosthuizen, member of the Herpetological Association of Africa and the Cape Town Reptile Club.

He told People’s Post a lot of snakes are easily misidentified and non-venomous snakes killed out of fear.

“Comments like ‘the only good snake is a dead snake!’ are often what we deal with, and since a lot of harmless snakes try and mimic your more dangerous venomous snakes as a form of protection, unskilled people often mistake them for being venomous and kill them or don’t even bother to find out what they are – only after it has been killed.

“This is very common,” he sysd.

There might not be specific hotspots, but Oosthuizen says residential areas near places such nature reserves will now start seeing more snake activity.

“Snakes don’t hibernate in South Africa and can be seen basking on a warm winter’s day; they are not active during winter and rely on fat reserves for survival, so as spring brings warm weather and snake metabolic rates increase, they start looking for food and a mate to breed,” he said.

“This will often bring them into homes, especially since rodents live close to humans. Geckos being attracted to the insects that our security lights attract is also a good food source for certain species of snake, or even our ponds – a good water source that should it contain frogs would be yet another food source.”

Oosthuizen says he has made some strange discoveries due to kept snakes.

“Sometimes they escape and can end up in a well developed area where you won’t normally find snakes, or are even brought from afar. In one case I had to rescue a Beetz Tiger snake (Telescopus Beetzii) from a workshop in Parow Industrial.

“It was found among the braai wood the people had bought in Namibia, although the snake is also found in the Western Cape. It is a mildly venomous back fanged snake but not harmful to humans,” he added.

Oosthuizen says keeping a garden tidy is a good way to deter snakes, as it leaves no hiding spots for them to take cover in.

He adds pets – and especially dogs – are at risk, as they are more inclined to approach snakes by sniffing at them, which leads to a snake defending itself by biting.

He advises people not to try and kill snakes themselves.

He reminds readers that it is illegal to kill any snake as most are protected species and vital to local ecosystems.

V Oosthuizen can be contacted on 072 354 4221 for more information.

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