Here’s an interesting article from this morning’s weekend read…

Puff adder

AN INCREASE in snake sightings around Port Elizabeth has prompted experts to issue a warning as summer heats up, with residents cautioned against confronting the reptiles when they come across them.

Snake catcher and Sandula Conservation director Mark Marshall said he had received about 150 calls this month, averaging about five calls a day.

Snakes that have been caught in recent months include puff adders, cobras and boomslangs.

“Boomslangs have been reported in Pari Park and Bushy Park, puff adders in Sardinia Bay, Summerstrand and Walmer, while both cobras and puff adders are in Westering and surrounding areas,” Marshall said.

“There are very various contributing factors. Developments in residential areas have seen snakes seek refuge in other gardens and areas. Another major problem is illegal dumping of rubble and garbage which is where snakes hide and seek refuge.

“This is what keeps snakes in the area,” he said.

“Snakes in residential areas are not uncommon but with all the latest building developments under way there has definitely been an increase in sightings,” Marshall said.

But he added that it was “natural and common” for an increase in snake sightings as the weather heats up.

“Snakes are reptiles, meaning they rely on external sources, such as the sun, for heat as well as seeking shade to cool themselves when it is hot. “The hotter it is, the more active they are,” he said. “It must be stressed that snakes bite people and dogs when they are threatened and defending themselves, not because they are hungry and want to eat you – that is only in the movies.”

Marshall cautioned residents to be careful when walking through the veld or any bushy areas. “Stand still if you stumble onto one,” he said. “The main venomous snakes you get in the Eastern Cape are boomslang, Cape cobra, rinkals and puff adders,” he said.

“You also find that during construction the snakes flee into the surrounding built-up areas in an attempt to relocate or to follow food like mice and rats.”

Marshall said he had a team on standby to respond to snake callouts in the Port Elizabeth area. Snakes are then released into a reserve.

19 thoughts on “Snakes”

  1. Why is it that once you leave Europe all the flora and fauna is trying to kill you? When we lived in Brisbane there were several instances of snakes in the pool – not something you particularly want to surface beside.


  2. Soutie, my eyes are too dimmed with tears to type much – and I won’t be buying any NZ Manukah honey again!

  3. sheona :

    Soutie, my eyes are too dimmed with tears to type much – and I won’t be buying any NZ Manukah honey again!

    Sheona, good afternoon and a bit confused? Why are you so upset with the Kiwis? Can’t be the Rugby League result last night, surely? 50-4 was a pretty good result last night given our Jockland expertise thereanent. At least we qualified for the knock-out stage for a change.

    Settling down to watch England v All Blacks and have just switched sides after a concentrated hour of watching the Southrons bigging themselves up. They deserved to win last year, They will in my opinion, get gubbed this year. I could, of course, be wrong.

    I was still prepared to support them against the Dark Empire.but the final straw has been the total nonsense of the England fans dirging out ‘Swing low,sweet bloody Chariot’ throughout the Haka. Pathetic.

  4. PATHETIC!! PATHETIC you say

    I haven’t watched a haka since ’86

    Except of course in ’95 when Kobus and James walked into them at Ellis Park at the beginning of the world cup final.

    Since then of course, the Boks decided to have a team meeting under the posts while they were dancing (subsequently banned), then the IRB wouldn’t let us within 10 yards of them, I go to the loo when they decide to dance, I did so today and I’ll do so tomorrow.

    If they want a ritual before a match they can keep it in the dressing room.

  5. Re my own #4.

    My apologies to England. Not gubbed at all. They played really well and are clearly the best Northern Hemisphere team at the moment. The better team still won.

    Still abhor the English annexation of one of the great shared rugby anthems.. I spent my youth roaring out ‘SWLC’ (with actions). It is dead to me now.

  6. Soutie :


    I haven’t watched a haka since ’86

    If they want a ritual before a match they can keep it in the dressing room.

    Aye weel, Soutie. We’ll have to agree to differ. Pathetic I wrote and pathetic I meant. The Haka has been in the NZ pre-match ritual since 1900. and it would be a sad day if other teams drove it out of existence on the spurious grounds of it giving them some sort of advantage. It’s part of the history of the game.

    You are quite right that the IRB are over-protective of it and the players of other teams should be able to oppose it in whatever way works for them. But that’s the players, not the spectators. They;re not challenging us and we should just enjoy the spectacle. In my opinion.

  7. Soutie :

    Hi JM, Scotland tomorrow :)

    I know, I know (sigh).

    Long-arranged and unavoidable family engagement elsewhere. I’m gutted. The Beast is surely bound to come on at some point. and I’m going to miss.him.

    Recording it, of course, and will comment once it’s been watched.

    I thought Joubert had a good game today and not bothered about him missing the penalty on McCaw. There’s a man who has flirted with illegality throughout his entire career. Deserves nothing.

  8. Ha ha 🙂 Cheers!

    Looking forward to tomorrow, your lot gave us a run for our money earlier this year but that certainly won’t happen tomorrow.

    We’ve got a Scotland test next year (at our stadium) I’ll be there.

  9. JM, my sons were also trying to comfort me this afternoon with “It’s only rugby league, mum.” But Scotland is still Scotland, even if playing kabaddi.

  10. Whilst I agree most snakes are somewhat shy and tend to avoid people, there is a marked exception in the deep south. The water moccasin, they used to lurk on the side of the road in Mississippi and attack the car tires as you drove past!
    I shall never forget a picnic in deepest darkest Mississippi on an island in the river. We all got into a pirogue on a bayou to get there. Two guys went and stood on the raised deck at the front with long light swishy poles about 12′ long. The bayou was lined with trees arched over making a green tunnel. They beat the branches before we progressed under at slow speed. FESTOONS of snakes, water moccasins, uncoiled themselves from the branches and dropped off into the water and swam away! Evidently if you don’t knock them out of the branches they wait and drop in the boats, they have learnt that people have fish that are easily pinched!!! Total freak out territory!
    You have to be very careful in Memphis what with the wild life on two legs, four legs and no legs, life needs to be lived with eyes in the back of your head!
    Nowhere near as may dangers in Texas and none at all up here. Washington State is the only place in the USA with no poisonous snakes, only the odd corn snake and grass snakes. I often have to rescue them from bird netting over fruit, they get themselves in dreadful knots.
    I rather like snakes, earned the boy great kudos at school by wearing their grass snakes as a necklace for an afternoon when one small boy put one on me to frighten me, said thank you and curled it round like a muffler! But water moccasins are quite a different matter! Only good one is a dead one!

  11. “I thought Joubert had a good game today and not bothered about him missing the penalty on McCaw. There’s a man who has flirted with illegality throughout his entire career. Deserves nothing.”

    Mr Mackie: All backrow forwards are permanently offside. It is in their DNA.

  12. sheona :

    JM, my sons were also trying to comfort me this afternoon with “It’s only rugby league, mum.” But Scotland is still Scotland, even if playing kabaddi.

    Sheona: Rugby League may not be such a good or exciting game as Rugby Union, but it is a MUCH BETTER game than GirlieBall. That should ruffle a few feathers 🙂

  13. Hi Mrs O, agreed.

    I can’t recall a single fatality in these parts from a snake bite, most of our indigenous snakes are completely harmless, I imagine all of these calls are by residents who simply don’t want one slithering around their garden and/or endangering their pets.

    Now bee’s are a different kettle of fish,we had a case just last month of a woman walking in the street not a kilometer from my house attacked and killed by a swarm, a very sad story.

  14. soutie, I think most people fail to learn the patterns of the dangerous and harmless. They are all quite different, then panic when they see any snake! Most snake bites are survivable if you get the anti venom in 30-120 mins. Anyone going out into the bush extensively needs to carry a kit. Here they are a little box with pictures of the local poisonous jobs and 3/4 vials labelled for which snakes, some double up.
    Short of that don’t go too far from a local hospital or doctor who all hold anti venom, most police stations do too in the deep south.
    I gather there are a couple of snakes in the world that are total killers but I think they live in Australia, not sure about that, but everything lethal seems to live in Australia!
    One of the big problems is there are too many humans and we are continually moving into creatures’ habitats, then we don’t want to share with them. The big problem in the North of the USA are bears and garbage cans.

  15. … and then this from today’s newspaper.

    A PORT Elizabeth man trying to help a neighbour remove a snake had a narrow escape after being bitten by a puff adder at the weekend. Juan Claassen, 31, manager at the Norotshama River Resort in Namibia, is visiting family in Sunridge Park.

    They were at home on Friday evening when a distraught neighbour rushed in and asked them to help after she had come across a snake in her garage.

    “I originally thought it was a mole snake so I went to get it. But it was a puff adder. In Namibia we get lots of snakes and I have had to catch one or two before so I knew what to do,” he said.

    “In this case I took the handle of a spade and pushed it against the snake’s head so that I could grab it behind the head.

    “Obviously I didn’t apply enough pressure and the snake wriggled out when I grabbed it. By that stage its head was in my hand and it managed to sink one of its fangs into my finger. I flung it off straight away and put it in a container.”

    Claassen started sucking the bite immediately to get any venom out.

    “It was an experience that I won’t forget and I knew that I had to remain calm. My father’s face went pale and I could see my mother was going to start crying. I got the hospital’s phone number and phoned them to tell them I was on my way in,” he said.

    “The hospital was fine but I think they didn’t really understand what happened until I showed them the snake in a container. Then they started running around grabbing all sorts of medicines and putting me on machines. Luckily the snake expert arrived and managed to assist.”

    Doctors placed Claassen under observation for two hours and he was discharged as no venom had entered his system.

    Claassen’s younger sister, Lene, 21, said the family went “hysterical”.

    “Everyone was panicking. My other sister grabbed rope out of the garage and tied it around Juan’s upper arm to stop the venom from spreading.

    “They then pushed him into a car straight away and drove him off to hospital,” she said. “Juan was very calm, though.”

    The incident comes just days after Port Elizabeth snake catcher and expert Mark Marshall issued a warning to residents as there had been more than 150 call-outs in less than a month.

    Marshall was called to the hospital to assist after Claassen was bitten and said he was fortunate to have had a dry bite – when no venom is injected.

    “In defensive attacks it is fairly common. Snakes try to keep their venom for their prey. Venom can be injected in a defensive attack, but fortunately in this instance, it was not the case. Adders look like slow moving snakes, but they can strike victims and prey extremely quickly.”

    Marshall said it was important to identify the snake in order to treat the bite.

    “The puff adder’s venom destroys both tissue and blood cells. It is very painful and the body will go into a state of shock.”


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