Snakes of Clarendon
by the late Zane Barnard
Generally, Spring heralds the beginning of snake season and, when the weather warms, so snakes begin actively hunting for food and mating.
Most species will mate through Spring and Summer while some species have been known to mate during the Winter months as well. The majority of snake species that occur in Clarendon and surrounding suburbs are harmless to people and / or pets. However, there are a few highly venomous species that; although not very common; do occur in Clarendon - namely Puff Adders and Boomslang. There are also a few species which are venomous and / or dangerous but not life threatening, these are Night Adders and the infamous Stiletto Snake. Infamous in that it is a snake that cannot be held safely without the snake biting the person holding it. See below for pics of the snakes mentioned above: -
Puff Adder - highly venomous
Male Boomslang - highly venomous
Female Boomslang - highly venomous
Juvenile Boomslang - highly venomous
Night Adder - venomous but not lethal
Stiletto snake - venomous but not lethal
Brown house snake - non-venomous
Brown water snake - non-venomous
Olive house snake - non-venomous
Spotted bush snake - non-venomous
Western Natal Green snake - non venomous
Herald snake (aka Red-lipped Herald or Rooilippie) - mildly venomous but harmless to humans
The common, harmless / non-venomous species that occur in the Clarendon area are as follows: -
What to do should you encounter a snake: -
Should you encounter a snake, especially a snake that you are unable to identify with 100 % certainty, always approach the situation as if the snake is dangerous.
Always keep a safe distance from the snake (5 meters is considered a safe distance).
Remove children, adults and pets (especially cats and dogs) from the area.
You should then contact someone that has experience in identifying and dealing with the removal and relocation of snakes.
While this person is en-route; you must keep an eye on the snake and, under no circumstance, lose sight of it!
Do not attempt to catch; kill; throw chemicals or hot / boiling water on the snake. Doing so could result in someone getting bitten and / or the snake fleeing and attempting to find somewhere to hide.
What to do should you be bitten: -
If someone has been bitten by a snake, do not waste time!
Do not apply a tourniquet or pressure bandage to the bitten limb - just get the person to hospital immediately where he / she can be treated symptomatically. Preferably, a facility with a trauma unit where the victim can be assessed / stabilized / treated etc.
If you can take a photo of the the snake - great, BUT, do not attempt to catch or kill it where you risk a second person being bitten.
Unless a person is able to correctly identify a snake, there is no hard and fast rule to tell whether it is dangerous or not. I would recommend that anyone that encounters snakes in their proprieties regularly, keep a book or chart of snakes. The African Snakebite Institute do have posters showing the common and dangerous snakes of cities / areas which can be downloaded or ordered.
We need to try bare in mind that snakes are mother nature's natural pest controllers - eating rats, toads etc. We would be overrun by rodents
etc if people killed every snake they spotted. Snake venom is also used in the manufacture of certain medicines. Snakes removed from properties must be released as soon as possible after they have been caught. Also, they should be released in an area they are very unlikely to be encountered again and that has ample shelter as well as food and water supply. Please note that there are no known chemicals; concoctions or plants that repel snakes.
However, to limit the possibility of encountering snakes on your property, following the advice below will certainly help in reducing human / snake encounters in and around homes and properties.
Keep your property neat and tidy including trimming of hedges and creepers
Try not to store building materials all over the property
Compost heaps; rockeries; ponds and bird aviaries all attract creatures snakes will prey on
Try store animal feed in rodent proof containers as this feed attracts rodents which, in turn, attract snakes
For the removal and relocation of snakes, please contact Greg Adley on 083 388 3172.