Snake scare in suburbs

2016-03-16 06:00
A Cape Cobra found in a Port Elizabeth resident's garden. Photo: Mark Marshall

A Cape Cobra found in a Port Elizabeth resident's garden. Photo: Mark Marshall

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THE recent rainfall and high humidity levels as well as prolonged hot days, have resulted in an increase in snake activity in Port Elizabeth suburbs over the past few weeks.

This according to Sandula Conservation’s owner and snake expert, Mark Marshall, who had caught 13 puff adders as well as other venomous snakes during the past weekend.

“There are a lot more snakes around because of the extremely hot weather we have been having. There has also been an increase in puff adder activities.”

“The puff adders look for cooler places during the day but like to keep warm during the night. They prefer tar roads at night where they remain on the road absorbing the heat from it,” Marshall said.

“The high temperatures and then the cold front and rain resulted in an increase of frog activity and this resulted in an increase of puff adders. Puff adders also like the humidity at times,” he said.

Marshall said the suburbs where he noticed a high increase in snake activities are Summerstrand, Westering, Theescombe and Malabar.

“We get about six or seven calls a day, sometimes more. Once we catch the snake, we take it to a protected nature reserve close to the area we found it,” he said.

Marshall advised against trying to kill or catch a snake.

“Stay calm, don’t try to kill the snake; so many people get bitten by the snake when they try to kill it. Call an expert. It will take us about 15 to 20 minutes to get to the house.”

“Residents should also keep their cats and dogs inside. A puff adder found in a Malabar resident’s garden killed three cats,” he said.

Marshall added that an hour before the sun goes down and an hour afterwards, is when the snakes are most active.

“If you have sliding doors, it would be best to close them.”

If bitten by a snake, Marshall advises residents to remain calm.

“If you do get bitten by a snake, don’t panic. Identify the snake or take a photo of the snake and go to the hospital – but get someone else to drive you there,” he advised.

“By April, snake activity should start to decrease because the weather conditions change and breeding season will come to an end.”

Chairman of Wildline, Arnold Slabbert, who focuses on urban conservation, said that snakes are preparing for winter.

“It’s that time of the year when snakes are probably the most active and preparing for winter. The snakes want to fatten up. This is not an unusual year, this is normal. The next active period would be in spring when it starts getting warmer,” Slabbert said.

“It’s not unusual to get six or seven calls a day. The majority of snakes in urban areas are harmless. The main venomous snakes here are the puff adders, Cape Cobra and boomslang,” Slabbert added.

Slabbert mentioned that the best reaction to finding a snake, would be to call the experts.

“If you do find a snake in your house or garden, don’t try to kill or catch it. Unless you are an expert, leave the snake alone and call the experts because the majority of people get bitten by snakes when they try to catch or kill it.”

A Westering resident, Pat Sydie, said he found a Cape Cobra in his garden a couple of days ago.

“Our dogs found the two-metre cobra first. They started barking, it was a different type of bark and we knew something was wrong. We called snake expert, Mark Marshall, and they were there very quickly.”

Sydie added that a week ago, his neighbour’s dogs kept barking and they eventually found a one-metre puff adder in the neighbour’s yard.

“We are concerned about our dogs because a puff adder has the potential to kill about ten dogs,” Sydie said.

For a handy poster on the venomous snakes in the Eastern Cape, click here.

  • If a snake is found, contact Sandula Conservation on (082) 261 9280.

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