Snakes: Be aware but don’t kill

30 November 2020 | Environment

Windhoek • [email protected]

With Namibia’s rainy season upon us, there is also an increase in snake activity since they are on the hunt for something to eat.

Since August this year, some 26 snakes have already been removed from properties in Windhoek, including Puff adders, a black mamba and an African Rock Python. Data shows that a 1 000 callouts were done in the last season.

While instinct might be to kill a snake in an effort to protect yourself and your family, there is another solution. A team of trained snake loving people will assist you in removing all types of snakes, should you encounter one.

According to snake catcher Jacobus Henn, there are a number of reasons snakes enter residential areas, with the most likely being to hunt. They also tend to look for cooler places in the summertime and may enter properties looking for cooler places. Areas prone to snake visits are houses situated next to veld areas, like in Kleine Kuppe, Ludwigsdorf, Elisenheim and Academia.

Henn says there are some guidelines you can follow to help both parties. “Firstly, keep your yard clean and clear of any rubble, because this gives snakes a place to hide,” he says. Then, if you do encounter a snake, keep your children and pets away and never attempt to catch a snake, especially if you are unsure of the species.

According to Henn, it’s important to always keep your eyes on the snake while waiting for the catcher to arrive.

“Do not attempt to kill a snake,” he warns, adding that if you can reach the snake, it can reach you too.

He says that residents generally call them if they come across a snake. “However, there is still a large amount of awareness that needs to be done. People still kill snakes, harmless or not,” he said.

As from 2021 they will start doing information sessions about snakes and safety.

Another reason to not kill snakes is because they keep the rodent population under control, as well as other potentially pesky animals. Henn also states that other predators feed on snakes and would go extinct if there are no snakes as prey.

“Snakes are also used to produce anti-venom,” he says.

Contrary to popular belief, he says there is no such thing as snake repellent, and petrol and oil should not be used to deter snakes.

As a final word of warning: “Snakes will feel threatened by anything close to them and might act in defence, so keep a safe distance,” Henn says.

In the event that you are spat at in the face by a Spitting cobra, rinse out your eyes for 20 minutes under running water or any bland fluid like milk or beer and call a doctor for treatment. If someone was bitten by a snake, it is important to mobilize the victim and keep him/her still. Contact the nearest hospital and arrange for emergency admission and call your doctor.

Also call Namibian snake expert Francois Theart for further assistance.

“Let's work together and preserve life through conservation and the protection of our species.”

Here is a list of numbers to keep close by in case of emergency:
Windhoek: Francois Theart 081 290 0343

Kosie Henn 081 447 9117

Eugene 081 216 5057

Leevi ( Katutura ) 081 248 2602

Marco (Elisenheim) 081 657 7695

Heinrich (Omeya) 081 700 9879

Otavi: Phillip 081 128 0202

Grootfontein: De Wet 081 034 3057

Tsumeb: Alex 081 394 0174

Barbara 081 822 8601