It’s the time of year slithery serpents come visiting

Snake season is fast approaching with more than 35 snakes caught in people’s homes and gardens over the past two weeks.

Snake expert and owner of Sandula Conservation, Mark Marshall, said this week he had already caught 15 snakes – some venomous and others harmless – in homes and gardens across the metro. Last week alone he caught about 20 snakes.

While the number of snakes caught has been on the rise, Marshall also receives about five phone calls a day about snake sightings.

In one of the latest incidents, a female boomslang slithered into a canary cage in a house in Bradley Street, Summerstrand, and ate two pet birds on Wednesday afternoon.

Marshall predicts that as it gets warmer, more snakes will slither into yards and homes.

While November and December are the usual time snakes emerge, there is a build-up in sightings from October.

“I think the hot weather, coupled with the dry bush and the past rainfall, plays a role. The bush fire at NMMU and in Fairview definitely saw snakes scramble to get away, resulting in them fleeing into the suburbs, along with rodents and other animals,” he added.

Unlike in previous years, this year has seen fewer puff adders but more boomslangs and Cape cobras emerge.

“Cobras, night adders and boomslang are coming out in force this year – very different from the past three years. The previous years I had more puff adder callouts. This year, roles are in reverse but one could possibly see it normalise as summer approaches,” he said.

On Thursday Marshall attended to four snake sightings in gardens – one at a school in the northern areas.

“One needs to remember that not each callout leads to a snake being caught. They are constantly moving and can disappear within minutes. If the past week is anything to go by with regard to sightings, it shows that I am in for a busy summer,” he joked.

“The change of weather in areas that are usually damp and bushy also attracts snakes due to the increase in rodents breeding in those areas,” he warned.

The most affected areas Marshall has been called to include Westering, Walmer, Rowallan Park, Summerstrand, Lorraine, Theescombe and Sherwood.

He called on pet owners to be cautious as dogs were often bitten while attacking snakes.

“Dogs tend to go for snakes. This time of year vets receive several pets that have been bitten. Most hospitals and vets have antivenom on hand should an animal or dog be bitten.

“I am also contacted by the hospital to assist with identifying the type of snake involved as there are several different types of venomous snakes.

“Each venom also has a different reaction and needs specific treatment,” he explained.

“If a snake does bite a pet or person, always try to take a picture of it with a cellphone. This will greatly assist in identification and alert doctors to what treatment to administer.”

Marshal releases all the captured snakes in the wild on a nature reserve outside the Bay area.

Anyone who needs advice on snakes can contact Marshall on 082-261-9280.

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