Snakes galore in PMB

2009-12-24 00:00

IF just hearing the word “snake” has you throwing a hissy fit, then news that one local snake expert was called out to catch about 200 of these slithery creatures in and around Pietermaritzburg this year alone, won’t be much comfort to you.

That is with the added knowledge that 42 different types of snakes, including the most lethal like pythons and black mambas, were caught lurking in these areas.

But be of good cheer, experts still maintain that snakes will bite only when provoked.

Garth Carpenter, owner of The Sanctuary in Ashburton where he runs a wildlife orphanage and rehabilitation centre, says he has caught close to 200 snakes in people’s houses, gardens, cars and outbuildings, like garages, this year alone. This, he says, is largely in the Ashburton, Bishopstowe and Hilton areas.

However, he says this should not be a cause for panic since snakes prefer to hide than hunt for human blood. “We are building more and more into their territories, which is disturbing them. And people have to realise that they have a food chain going in their gardens. The lights at night bring insects, the insects bring frogs, and snakes will follow the frogs.”

Also, if you’ve heard myths that spraying Jeyes fluid or burning tyres will help you keep these reptiles away, Carpenter says they don’t work.

“Snakes will never come looking for people to attack, there is no such thing …” he says.

“If people are worried we will go and collect the snakes but all we are asking for is that you do not harm them.”

All you have to do, Carpenter says, is keep yourself and your pets away from the snake and watch where it goes, as he does not have the time to conduct searches.



Garth Carpenter runs The Sancutary in Ashburton, a wildlife orphanage and rehabilitation centre for all wild animals and reptiles.

They receive injured or orphaned animals which they get healed and reared for their release back to the wild.

By the age of 10, his huge interest in wasps and ants, help him realise his calling. As he grew bigger, so did his interest in bigger animals. He started collecting snakes, lizards and chameleons, which he started catching at 12 years.

He has worked for the Natal Parks Board and as a game warden in other game parks in Africa.

Carpenter said he has caught over 16 000 snakes in his lifetime.

All three of his sons are snake catchers, with two doing it professionally.



If you ever doubted the usefulness of snakes snake expert say they keep rodents under control.

While this is something many of us know, doing the rat equation is mind boggling.

They say female rats breed every six weeks and by the end of that six weeks, those baby rats are also doing their own reproduction, which leaves us well over 1,5 million rats a year.

That’s when rodent eaters, like Mole snakes come in handy. If one of these snakes eats one rat a week, we would have 50 less rats a year, which means less threat to our food supply such as maize.

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