Snake sightings on the rise this summer

2016-12-08 10:05
Pietermaritzburg snake expert Zane Barnard reaches for a puff adder he rescued in a Hilton home on Wednesday.

Pietermaritzburg snake expert Zane Barnard reaches for a puff adder he rescued in a Hilton home on Wednesday. (Chelsea Pieterse)

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With summer heating up, snake season is also in full swing and local snake catchers say they have been receiving a number of callouts for various venomous snake species found in people’s homes.

On Wednesday, local snake expert and snake catcher Zane Barnard was called out to a Hilton home where he rescued a puff adder that was in the garden.

Barnard said an increase in temperatures led to snakes looking for food and ending up in people’s homes.

“People need to understand that snakes are afraid of people as much as people are afraid of them. They only attack when they feel threatened or agitated,” he said.

He said in the past two weeks the most common venomous snake he has rescued from people’s homes were black mambas, Mozambique cobras and boomslangs, along with other non-venomous snakes.

He added that the commonest areas in the Midlands for snakes are Hilton, Ashburton and Lincoln Meade.

“I rescue the snakes from people’s homes and relocate them to their natural habitat away from people’s habitation.

“People can feel free to call me whenever they discover a snake on their property … even if it is midnight, I do not mind,” said Barnard.

Another local snake expert and snake catcher, Mark Enslin, also said he has been receiving many calls from frightened people asking him to hurry and remove “monstrous” snakes from their property.

“I get about four calls per day, and sometimes people call and say there is a monster snake in their garden only to find it is only a frog or a blue-headed lizard,” laughed Enslin.

On Saturday, a resident from the Ashburton area, Ingrid Harrison, had an encounter with a spitting cobra and called Enslin to remove the snake before it attacked her dog, Jasper.

Harrison said she has had many incidents where her pets, including Jasper, were attacked by spitting cobras.

“We have had many Mozambique spitting cobras in our garden over the years having lived on our smallholding for over 25 years.

“Some were 2,5 m long. All were caught and removed,” said Harrison.

Enslin said people can keep snakes off their property by keeping their garden neat and tidy, trimming down shrubs that may be growing against windows, clearing piles of wood or rubble lying around.

“Snakes come to properties for food and shelter, not to harm residents,” added Enslin.

EMERGENCY NUMBERS

Zane Barnard: 082 850 7713

Mark Enslin: 079 951 4777

ER24: 084124

WHAT TO DO IF YOU FIND A SNAKE ON YOUR PROPERTY:

Make sure your children and pets are safe.

Do not attempt to catch the snake or aggravate it as this may lead to a snake bite.

Once all the family members are safe, call an expert on the matter.

Watch the snake from a distance.

Calling the SPCA will help.

WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BITTEN:

Stay calm.

Try to identify the snake by sight only. Look for colour, markings and head shape.

If possible, stand at a distance and take a picture of the snake.

Do not try to kill the snake; it could bite again.

Keep the patient calm and immobile (preferably lying down).

Do not use a tourniquet, do not cut the wound, do not try to suck out the venom and do not pack the wound in ice.

Rush the injured person to hospital. Rush pets to vets.

OTHER FACTS:

It is never okay to kill any sort of animal.

Stand at least four metres away from a spitting cobra when waiting for a snake catcher.

— Information from ER24

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  snakes

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