Mamba mia! Meet the 9-year-old snake catcher from Meyerton

2019-03-04 12:01
Johan van Rooyen (9) with a rinkhals.

Johan van Rooyen (9) with a rinkhals. (Felix Dlangamandla)

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A 9-year-old boy from Meyerton is a qualified snake catcher who has already caught venomous snakes such as cobras, puff adders and rinkhalses, Beeld reported on Monday. 

Johan van Rooyen, a Grade 4 pupil at Laerskool Voorwaarts, reportedly completed a one-day course at African Reptiles and Venom in Diepsloot to earn his certificate in snake catching. 

Johan told Beeld that he had to catch some of South Africa's most venomous snakes to earn his certificate. 

According to the boy's dad, also Johan, his son's interest in snakes began at a very young age when he came upon a brown house snake eating a gecko. 

He realised that a snake-catching course was the obvious way forward for young Johan. 

Beeld reported that the younger Johan has already been called out to catch snakes on two occasions - once at a residential property and another time at a sports club. Both snakes were rinkhalses. 

Johan van Rooyen (9) from Meyerton catches a rinkhals. (Felix Dlangamandla)

In October, News24 interviewed a number of snake experts, who agreed that trying to catch or kill a snake in your home is not a smart idea. The closer you get to one of these creatures, the more likely it is that you will get bitten.

READ: There's a snake on my stoep! This is how to handle slithery visitors

Johan agrees.

"Stay at least 5m away, don't move for 30 seconds and then back away slowly," the young snake catcher told Beeld. 

Snakes don't just roam the bush. They can be found in people's homes - under fridges, in cupboards, on curtain rails, in ceilings, pretty much anywhere, according to snake experts News24 interviewed in 2018.

Durban-based snake expert Byron Zimmerman told News24 that, should you be bitten by a snake, regardless of what type it is, the best thing to do is to get to a hospital as quickly as possible.

"Contact someone to let them know you've been bitten so that when you become unconscious, they will know what has happened. Don't waste time trying to catch or kill the snake. Snake bites can cause death quickly in certain cases."

Snakes have different types of venom that have different effects on people.

One is a neurotoxin that a black mamba carries which affects your central nervous system and shuts down your heart and lungs. Another common venom is a cytotoxin, which spitting cobras and adders carry, which destroys tissue and causes an incredible amount of damage.

Health24: Where snakebites are deadliest

Another type of venom is called a haemotoxin, found in, among others, the boomslang, that affects one's blood's ability to clot and causes death through internal bleeding.

People who encounter snakes at homes or in offices can find a snake removal expert by visiting snakeremoval.co.za.

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