In recent weeks, the Grahamstown Facebook page seems to be covered in pictures of snakes found by Grahamstown residents seeking assistance in dealing with the slithering intruders. To quell some of the worries surrounding this seeming increase, Chad Keates, an aspiring Herpetologist at Rhodes University with an obvious love of snakes, shares his knowledge on the matter.
Snakes have and always will be abundant in Grahamstown due to the large variations of habitats in the area.
Although it seems that there are suddenly more snakes, this is because people like Chad are actively publicising themselves on social me- dia in an attempt to help save the reptiles. The publicity has shown residents that there are alternative ways of dealing with snakes without killing them. This has led to more people asking for help online when they find snakes, which has created a belief that there are suddenly more snakes - because of the increased publicity surrounding snakes.
The warm summer weather is also a contributing factor, as snakes need the heat of direct sunlight to remain active. In the winter months, most snakes will burrow under rocks in the wilder parts of Grahamstown and will not be as visible.
If you encounter a snake; watch it and stay at least five meters away from it at all times. Do not corner the snake, and keep in mind that snakes are not evil and they will not chase you if you move away from them.
The best thing to do if you encounter a snake or find one in your house is to give it space and call someone, such as Chad Keates (083 669 6169), or Basil Mills, to come and pick it up.
The snakes that are captured are going to be used as part of a year long study "to determine the effects of human/ snake interaction in Grahamstown" run by Keates, Luke Kemp and Dr Shelley Edwards in the Rhodes Zoology Department.
The data (such as the temperature, time of day and the sex of the snake) is collected as the snakes are caught and will go towards science and forming a better understanding of snakes. The snakes are then released into a safer, less populated area once the data has been collected.
If you are bitten by a snake, Keates stresses that the best thing to do is to get to hospital as soon as possible and allow a trained professional to treat you.
He also emphasises that you do not need to take a photo of the snake or kill it. The doctors will know what to do and getting to the hospital is your priority.
For more information on snakes, visit Chad's blog: nextgenherpetologist.wordpress.com
•Sarah Connock is a second-year B.Journ student doing a 40-hour holiday internship with Grocott's Mail