Snakes on a holiday

While on holiday, check your shoes before you just shove your foot in there. You may just avoid a nasty surprise.

Issued by Rian Viljoen

EVERYONE is geared up for the December Holidays, and some have been travelling already to get to their destinations for their vacations, while others are already whipping up a storm around the country. Snakes have also been on the move, although they don’t have the luxury of taking time off like we do. They are all busy looking for mates, places to give birth/lay eggs, and food for the coming cooler months.

Unfortunately, some of our most used holiday and recreation sites are also home to many species that are active at various times of the day and night, and vigilance is essential to co-habiting with our slithery brethren. As we have discussed previously, snakes use external heat sources to warm themselves up to their optimum body temperatures to forage, look for mates and a place to hide. A recently run car engine on a cool day makes a wonderful heating spot, as does the wooden trunk you keep your camping tools or firewood in. The smaller the space, the tighter the fit, the happier the snake is, and we as humans tend to take a lot of unnecessary stuff along on our trips, making it easy for something to slip in unnoticed.

Whether you’re out camping, staying in a lodge, or at a hotel along the beach, prepare yourself before you go:

1. Search the internet for the types of snakes and other dangerous animals you may encounter in the areas you plan to visit.

2. Find out if the hospital in that locality is equipped to handle emergencies (Not just snakes, but broken bones, cuts that need stitches etc.)

3. Check your bed before you just jump under the covers, and your shoes before you just shove your foot in there.

4. Look properly before picking up firewood, or grabbing old branches from trees, many animals use hollow stumps and wood piles, scorpions also love hiding under bark.

5. If you do see a snake, just let it be, or if it is in your accommodation, call the property manager, lodge guide, or whoever is there that can help remove it safely and release it.

6. Don’t walk around barefoot at night, and always have your torch on you. Snakes, scorpions, and a host of mammals are active at night, and you don’t need to step on something unseen.

7. When packing up, do so carefully. Snakes are often found under the ground sheets of campers, or accidentally packed into a vase or basket in a suitcase, and then find themselves far away from their home range.

8. Leave as little behind as possible. Campsites and lodges are placed in natural settings for their alluring beauty and nature at your doorstep. Leave it that way, and remind yourself when you get there, that you are the visitor, and the animals are the ones who have the right to be there.

Wishing you all a wonderful season, and a festive new year. Keep safe, and enjoy the nature around you wherever you may find yourself.

For any reptile removals, guides, shows, demonstrations or parties, Rian is always available on 083 306 3787, and relocates for the greater AbaQulusi area.

Rian Viljoen

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