Snake Tales: Snakes fatten up for Winter

A Black Mamba during its release back into nature. PHOTO: Nick Evans.

SNAKE activity has been pretty hectic and I’ve loved the action, but it’s caused a bit of worry and fear among most people.

 

What’s caused this spike in activity?

Activity levels haven’t exploded higher than before. We have recently received some much-needed rain, and then some scorching hot days, causing extra high humidity-perfect weather for snakes. A lot of snakes will be fattening up in March and April, as winter approaches. There is little, if any food around for a lot of the snakes in winter, especially those which feed mainly on frogs. We’re also in hatching season at the moment. Juvenile snakes have been breaking out of their eggs, and exploring this dangerous world. Don’t worry, mother snake isn’t protecting her babies from you, and the babies aren’t sticking together. Snakes are solitary, generally.

Are there more snakes than ever before?

It may seem like there are more snakes than before, but there aren’t. The reason why people are thinking this, is largely because of social media, and the way it allows information to be shared more easily than ever before. It’s not a bad thing. If the posts are read rather than just looked at, they create huge amounts of awareness and educate thousands.

 

A Mozambique Spitting Cobra that was caught and released into its natural area recently. PHOTO: Nick Evans.

 

What snakes have been ‘busy’?

People often ask me what area has the most snakes. No one can say for sure. But areas and roads that border valleys/reserves will always see their fair share of snakes.

Mozambique Spitting Cobras have kept me. I’ve caught 15 so far this year, and I’ve had many other telephonic conversations with people who saw one disappear into the garden, or whose pets had received a dose of venom in the eyes (should this happen, immediately rinse the eyes with water). I went out to a township in Molweni on 7 March and removed a 1.5m specimen from a bedroom. I then went straight to Malvern for another large one in a basement, and missed a third. They are a common species that should be avoided at all costs. Their well-known ability to spit is an excellent form of defense, which it uses effectively (they bite too). It’s not their breeding season now, but they are hunting toads, which are becoming scarcer as winter approaches.

I have caught many Black Mambas this year too. They’re my favourite snakes. In the past month, I removed a big female mamba from a pool pump in Westville North, another from a storeroom in Queensburgh, and one in a bedroom in Escombe (there were even more though). We’re actually coming up to mamba breeding season soon. Not what you’d expect, seeing as most snakes breed in spring.

Should I be worried?

No, snakes just wants to fulfil its natural role in the ecosystem. They are not nearly as aggressive as made out to be. They will leave you alone if you leave them alone.

Most of my snakes have been removed from messy rooms, or homes which are also home to a few rats. So, if you can keep your property neat and tidy, you will minimise the chances of snakes coming in (rats too).

If someone is bitten by a venomous snake, immediatel transport the patient to the nearest hospital. If a dog gets bitten, do the same by taking it to a vet.

For snake rescues and removals around the greater Durban area, contact Nick Evans on 072 809 5806. For educational work, you can email him at [email protected]

 

 

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  AUTHOR
Nick Evans, snake handler

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