Snakes form part of the unique biodiversity of South Africa’s natural areas within the Estate, snake encounters may occur. Many harmless, non-venomous snakes are destroyed indiscriminately, as snakes are regarded as a threat that should be killed, before it kills. This can be prevented by proper identification and proper procedures. In the Western Cape, there are 44 snake species. Approximately one out of every ten is potentially harmful to humans. Summer is the time of year when snakes are most active. The three most commonly occurring venomous snakes are the Puff Adder, Cape Cobra and the Boom slang. Other non-poisonous snakes that may be found are the Mole Snakes, Brown and Olive Snake. Snakes invariable move to urban areas to seek shelter, food or water and may pose a significant threat to the unwary. HOW TO AVOID BEING BITTEN BY SNAKES
- Awareness is the key – be alert during spring and summer when snakes are most active.
- Keep to the footpaths.
- Don’t turn over rocks and stones, hiding places of certain snakes.
- Step onto large rocks and logs and NOT over as a snake may be lying on the other side.
- Never put an unprotected hand down a hole in the ground or crack in a rock because a snake may be using this as a lair.
- If you find a snake, leave it alone because it will be far safer for you and those with you. Stand still or back away slowly.
- Do not touch or handle seemingly dead snakes with bare hand. Snake venom stay poisonous long after snakes die.
- Don’t leave piles of fire wood, rubbish lying about, corrugated iron, asbestos sheeting, piping, crates and cartons provide excellent cover for snakes and their prey. Keeping your property tidy will make snakes easier to see and discourage them or their prey from seeking shelter.
- Do not leave litter lying around, litter attracts mice and mice attract snakes. MOST IMPORTANTLY – TREAT ALL SNAKES WITH RESPECT WHAT TO DO IF YOU ENCOUNTER A SNAKE
- Stay clam and still, keep a safe distance from the snake (approx. 8m).
- Ask for someone to monitor the snakes’ movements from a safe distance.
- If the snake is indoors, isolate the room, shutting windows and doors.
- Call someone to remove the snake – this is the preferred way to handle this situation.
- The snake will be released in the nearest, suitable natural area. IN THE EVENT OF A SNAKE BITE
- Stay calm.
- Call for medical help.
- Try and identify the snake responsible for the bite, taking note of the time of bite.
- Keep the victim still and limit movement of the affected limb.
EMERGENCY NUMBERS Poison Centre’s Tygerberg Hospital: 021 931 6129 Red Cross Children’s Hospital: 021 689 5227 Emergency Services Landline: 107 / (021) 957 4700 CMR: 082 782 4444 Snake Removal Sean Thomas: 082 493 7713 Jeremy Keyser: 082 306 3111 PUFF ADDER
A large heavily bodied adder with an average size of around 0.8 – 1.2m. It has a distinctive large triangular head. Colouring is greyish to reddish brown. In the Western Cape puff adders tend to be more colourful, reddish brown with yellow black edged backward pointing chevron-shaped markings. These snakes are slow moving, bad tempered and excitable snakes that my hiss or puff when disturbed. They are active by day in the cool part of year, nocturnal during the summer months. They are often attracted to property where rubbish has accumulated to feed on rats and mice. They rely on their excellent camouflage preferring to freeze rather than move off and may easily be trodden upon. Although sluggish, will strike rapidly. It has one of the fastest strikes in the world. As it relies on camouflage to escape detection, it is considered Africa’s most dangerous snake and accounts for most serious snakebites in South Africa. Most victims are bitten on the leg. Venom is cytotoxic and slow acting, usually taking 24 hours to cause death if not treated. CAPE COBRA
A large, robustly built snake, easily recognized if it spreads its hood. It is a non- spitting cobra with an average length of 1.2 to 1.4m but often up to 1.6m. Colour varies from pale creamy yellow, orange yellow to dark reddish brown to black and is sometimes confused with Mole snakes. When disturbed it will raise the forepart of the body and spread a long narrow prominent hood. They are active in the day and early evenings and thus frequently encountered, especially as it is attracted to the rodents surrounding human habitation. They have a wide range of prey, from birds, lizards, other snakes and rodents to frogs and toads. It is a quick moving snake that rapidly retreats if approached although it will often spread a hood as a warning. Venom is a potent neurotoxin and onset of symptoms is rapid, difficulty in breathing, loss of muscular control being quickly evident. If bitten, a person should be taken to hospital immediately, treatment requires anti-venom and failure to treat is likely to result in death. BOOMSLANG
A large snake with an average length of 1.5m – can reach 2m, very large jewel like emerald-green eyes with round pupils and a stubby head. Colouration is very variable, from twig- coloured, light olive or brown, to leaf-green bright green or sometimes even powder-blue. A shy but dangerous snake, and when cornered will inflate its neck to expose brightly coloured skin and may strike. They are active during the day, spends most of its life in trees and shrubs. Bites are rare as the snake is back-fanged and it is usually snake-handlers who are bitten. The amount of venom it injects is minute but it is a potent hemotoxin that prevents blood clotting, causing death by hemorrhage. Specific anti-venom may be required, usually only available at leading city hospitals. MOLE SNAKE
A large, powerful constrictor with a pointed snout and a small head, adapted for its borrowing existence. It spends most of its time underground in search of moles and rodents, usually in soft sand, grass lands, mountainous and shrubbery areas. Average length is 1 -1,4m and may exceed 2m in the Cape. They are usually uniform light grey to light brown, dark brown, brick red or black above and yellowish below. These snakes are harmless but adults may inflict a painful bite. Treat with respect.
SPOTTED SKAAPSTEKERCAPE DWARF CHAMAELEON
A small snake with an average length of between 45 -85 cm, but may reach 1,4m, yellowish brown with 3-4 rows of dark- edged markings on top and on each side of body. This snake is quick moving, nervous and actively hunts its prey of rodents, birds lizards and frogs. Not considered harmful but may be mildly venomous. HERALD SNAKE
With an average length of between 45-70cm (sometimes reaching 1m) this snake is olive green or grey with white speckles with a darker head with top lips being red, white, orange-red or blackish. They are common in marshy areas and Fynbos and are nocturnal by nature when it hunts for frogs and amphibians. They are not regarded to be harmful to man and the mild venom may cause some bleeding when a bit is suffered. OTHER REPTILES ANGULATED TORTOISE
The carapace is light straw-yellow in colour whilst the top scutes have dark brown areolae and black edges. The marginal have a black triangle on the posterior edges. The plastron has a dark, irregular center and the abdominals are light orange to bright red.
These Chameleons are somewhat larger than other dwarf Chameleons. Coloration is uniform leaf-green, usually with an orange to rust-red lateral stripe. OCELLATED GEKO
These geckos are approximately 6-8cm in length small with a cylindrical body with a greyish-brown body with small scattered, dark-edged, white or yellow spots arranged in rows with a white belly. Feeds on insects and spiders. Nocturnal