Snakes alive

2017-02-15 06:01
                                          Photo: Struan COW IE The beautiful, harmless Western Natal Green Snake feeds on frogs and geckos.

Photo: Struan COW IE The beautiful, harmless Western Natal Green Snake feeds on frogs and geckos.

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ONE of the joys of rural living is the fact that one unwittingly shares one’s living space with an interesting variety of wildlife, snakes included.
Because snakes have no internal ability to control their body temperature they have to rely on the environment to regulate their body heat requirements, which means that in the KZN Midlands snakes go into hibernation in winter and are active during hot summer months.
With the high temperatures being currently experienced snakes are more active and therefore encounters with these fascinating creatures are more likely.
Traditionally, snakes have been regarded in a negative light as slimy, threatening and aggressive creatures that will readily attack people. However, most snakes are shy and will quickly and quietly move away to avoid confrontation with humans. Only if cornered, threatened or trodden on will most snakes defend themselves by spitting or biting.

Contrary to popular belief, many snakes play a vital and valuable role in the control of vermin such as rats and mice and other garden pests such as slugs and snails, and do not prey on humans. Sadly, too often, harmless snakes are killed because they are misidentified and misunderstood, and, not every green snake is a boomslang or green mamba.

Because the prey of many snakes is rats, mice and frogs, which are predominantly nocturnal, it means the species of snakes that eat these creatures tend to hunt at night. As a precaution wear closed shoes if walking around in the garden in the evening.

The best approach to have regarding snakes is to educate yourself and family about snakes. Learn which are toxic, aggressive and a possible danger, and which are harmless and pose no threat to humans.
Not all biting snakes inject the same toxins if they bite, therefore, find out about the types of toxins, how they affect the victim and basic rules of immediate first aid if bitten. If a snake is encountered, stop moving and remain quiet. Invariably the snake will move away.

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