Snoozy snake survives to slither in the mountain reserves

I wasn’t too thrilled to find a snake in the outbuilding that houses my solar batteries and inverter yesterday afernoon.  And since I know nothing about snakes, I posted a photo of it to find out what it is.  Well… everybody on Facebook seems to know far more about snakes than I do and I was bombarded with suggestions… like “coaxing it into a bag”. Yeah, no thanks.

And then Adele Toua who manages the Simonsberg Conservancy put me in touch with someone and he offered to take it away this morning.  And that’s how I met Kobus Smit of the Cape Reptile Institute.

I don’t know what I was expecting but I think some drama was at the top of the list.  But hardly a minute later Kobus had it in the tube and it was all done.

South African Puff Adder
“A nice big boy” was Kobus’ first comment. But this big boy needed to be prodded to wake up.

South African Puff Adder capture
And then, with hardly any encouragement, it just slithered into the tube. No hissing, no drama, “I just want to go back to sleep.”
Kobus Smit with some of the tools of a snake catcher. Yes, Puffy is in that tube.

“It’s not always this easy,” said Kobus, and I was pleased that it was an easy snake that decided to overnight here.

I learnt that snakes are territorial and stick to “their” area, so I am pleased that this one is being relocated to one of the mountaintop reserves.

The Cape Reptile Institute is headed up by Dr Tony Phelps, a field biologist well known for his long term study of the European adder in the UK. He now does similar work on a variety of snake species in South Africa, including the puff adder and cape cobra.

He has published extensively on the subject. His first book Poisonous Snakes was published in 1981.

He encourages students to study the behaviour of snakes in the wild; an aspect much neglected. In addition to actual study he also is a well known stills photographer and film maker.

The Institute’s activities includes:

  • educational talks/presentations;
  • capture, relocation, translocation;
  • problem reptile management;
  • DNA, sample, data collecting;
  • reptile management plans;
  • reptile surveys;
  • snake handling training;
  • photo archive; expo’s and shows;
  • awareness projects.

With landowners and farmers becoming more “green” and now actively pursuing an ecological balance, the Institute has been running a growing number of snake handling courses for security staff and farm workers.  That’s a big difference to the bad old days when snakes were just killed whenever they were seen.  Snakes play an important role in the balance of nature.


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