Summertime is snake time
When it is hot and either dry or very wet, gardens become a haven for snakes – but that doesn’t mean you should take refuge indoors, says Johan Marais, snake expert at the African Snake Bite Institute.
Where did you fascination with snakes start? I was seven when I caught my first brown house snake in our garden in Durban. There were also many interactions with snakes on family farms outside Stella, Ermelo and Grootvlei. Unfortunately, in those days, snakes were always killed. Have you been bitten by a snake? I’ve been dealing with snakes for more than 40 years and had never had a serious bite or needed an antivenom. What do you do if a dangerous snake decides to make your garden its home? Watch the snake from a safe distance – at least 5m – and use a field guide to identify it. Then contact a snake catcher – you’ll find a list on my website:
africansnakebiteinstitute.com. Are snakebites regularly reported by gardeners? Fortunately, that doesn’t happen often. Most snakebites happen in the warm, wet months of the year – from January to April – and it’s mostly early evening when people accidentally step on a snake. Does it help to plant wild garlic or geraniums to repel snakes? That’s an old wives’ tale. There isn’t any chemical that keeps snakes away either, and that includes Jeyes Fluid, chlorine, petrol and diesel. The best advice is to keep your garden clean and tiday: remove building material and remember that fish ponds attract frogs – and snakes love eating frogs. Mice, lots of bird nests and egg-laying chickens also attract snakes. What is the biggest misconception about snakes? That they’re aggressive and attack humans. If you’re 5m from any snake – even a mamba – you’re safe. It’s also not true that people die of antivenom.