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Mon May 30 14:42:18 SAST 2016

Snakes are not finding new homes in the suburbs: expert

Wim Pretorius | 21 January, 2016 17:16

Image by: http://www.sareptiles.co.za/

Despite several recent cases of snakes slithering into people's homes, the reptiles are not taking up residence in the suburbs, says a reptile expert.

Snakes became more active and came out of hiding with the first major rains of the year, which was also when most snakebite cases occurred, herpetologist Johan Marais said on Thursday.

"Most of these cases happen from January to April, during the warm and wet season.

"Every year people see a lot of snakes this time of the year and think that it's strange. Then the next year they forget and the same thing happens again," said Marais, who has written several books on snakes and other reptiles.

Snakes were in fact moving away from populated neighbourhoods, he said. There were, however, some that adapted quite well to city living and remained there, lured by frogs and mice in gardens.

"It is very common to find snakes in gardens. There is nothing strange about it. Sometimes they choose gardens because there are hiding places, like building materials and rocks."

In dry conditions, snakes were quite rare. To avoid dehydration they moved underground.

The snakes most common in Gauteng included the aurora house snake, red-lipped or herald snake, and the rinkhals - mostly on the East Rand. North of Pretoria, spitting cobras and, in some cases, puffadders could be found.

Marais said one of the biggest causes of snake bites was that people did not have sufficient knowledge on handling them. He urged people to keep their distance and call an expert to remove any snake found on their property.

A list of areas across the country and people who are snake removal experts in these areas can be downloaded at the website of African Snake Bite Institute - click here for the list.

This week, in Petrusburg, Free State, a Jack Russell terrier died after it was bitten by a Cape cobra which it killed in a bid to protect its pregnant owner and her two-year-old daughter.

In Cape Town, a Bull Terrier killed a cobra that found its way into its owner's garage.

In December last year, former Springbok shooter Peter Bramley, 58, and a 17-year-old girl were bitten on farms in the Free State.

Source: News 24

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