Snake season alert
A HUGE 2.5 metre black mamba caught at an Empangeni home on Friday has led to warnings that the summer snake season is here with a vengeance. The deadly poisonous reptile had been seen a number of times in the Milky Way road front yard and the family, including a young child, feared for their safety. Local snake expert Fred Lubbe caught and relocated the intruder, which showed signs of having previously been injured - probably in an attempt to kill it. ‘The black mamba is widely considered the world’s deadliest snake and often reaches close to five metres in length,’ said Lubbe. ‘Without antivenom, the fatality rate from a black mamba bite is 100%, with death occurring as little as 20 minutes after the strike.’ Lubbe said residents should be urgently reminded that all snakes should be treated as venomous on sight, and that even newborn snakes can kill an adult as their venom is deadly from birth. This means that people may innocently attempt to handle a ‘small, brown’ snake without knowing that it is an immature venomous one. ‘It is vitally important that people call a snake handler, who will safely remove the animal and relocate it to a place of safety without killing it. ‘Snakes, though they have a terrible reputation, are critical to our ecological environment and play an important part in rodent eradication. ‘They need to be professionally handled by experienced catchers, and nobody should approach any snake with a gung-ho attitude,’ he warned.
Snake season advice
• Stay well away from a snake upon sighting it - at least three metres - and call a handler. Try to keep it within sight until they arrive. If it is in a room, block all windows and exits and put a towel under the door. It is amazing how small a hole they can creep through.
• If it is safe to do so, and unavoidable, throw a towel or blanket over the creature. They will remain under it as they have an ‘if I can’t see you, you can’t see me’ mentality.
• If it’s in the open - leave it alone. ‘Snakes will never attack you as they are afraid of things bigger than themselves and will always try to flee,’ said Lubbe.
• Don’t try to be a hero or show off in front of others, it could very well be a deadly mistake. Even if not fatal, it can be a very costly error.
• Don’t try to kill it: many people have been bitten attempting to do that.
• Consider giving the person removing it a donation, as they are normally not making a living out of it and may not sell the snakes; it costs him petrol and his time and if he slips up it can also lead to hospital expenses.