Exotic snakes flung from bakkie in N3 accident

2014-08-20 00:00

THREE exotic snakes were allegedly thrown off the back of a bakkie during an accident on the N3 at Mooi River on Wednesday.

The snakes, identified as Red Tailed Boa Constrictors, were travelling with their owner who is believed to have sustained critical injuries and is in a coma in hospital. One snake died at the scene after it was run over and the other two were taken into care by Mooi River SPCA.

The snakes were taken to FreeMe KZN Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre for further treatment. Manager at FreeMe, Roz Marais, said the snakes are getting the necessary care and will be returned to the owner after recuperating.

“Mooi River SPCA identified them as African Rock Pythons which are indigenous and endangered. But we identified them as Red Tailed Boa Constrictors, which are exotic snakes and are often kept as pets,” Marais told The Witness.

“One is small at about 1,5 metres, the other is a lot bigger at about 2,5 metres. The smaller snake is being treated for pneumonia and both are shedding [skin] at the moment. They will be returned to the owner once he’s fully recovered.”

Pietermaritzburg snake expert Mark Enslin said the snakes are harmless.

“They are harmless to people as their size rarely exceeds four metres but nonetheless a bite can be very painful and needs to be treated as per any bite to avoid sepsis,” Enslin said.

“In the wild they are dangerous, but these were obviously kept as pets so I assume they should be docile. They cannot be released into the wild as they are exotic as they come from South America. The species is one of the most popular snakes kept as pets.”

Enslin said no permit was needed to own these snakes and in some areas of the world they are protected as they are hunted for their skins.

“Many have been known to live to a ripe old age of 30 years plus. These snakes are restricted to the tropical forests.”

Attempts to track down the owner’s name were unsuccessful.

Mooi River SPCA declined to comment.

• Do you know who the snakes belong to?

E-mail newsed@witness.co.za

ACCORDING to animals.pawnation.com, red-tailed boa constrictors are large “heavy-bodied” snakes. They originate from tropical South and Central America, from Brazil and Columbia, north through Mexico. They prefer to live in rainforests due to the humidity and temperature. They are docile snakes, though wild-caught boas tend to be more aggressive than captive-bred boas. They are carnivores eating rats, mice, amphibians, snakes, birds, eggs and small mammals.

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