Snake season has arrived

Snake season has arrived

“This year has been perfect with the (upcountry) snow and good rains that will make nature do what nature does,” Highway-based Gareth Zimmerman told the Independent on Saturday.

Durban’s snake catchers are expecting to be “crazy busy” when the weather warms up, heralding the start of mating season for many species.

While mambas, puff adders and pythons will have generally mated over winter, species such as the Mozambique spitting cobra, Rhombic night adders as well as harmless spotted bush snakes and brown house snakes will be out and about.

A STILETTO snake ‒ something to keep an eye open for during its mating season. Picture: Nick Evans
Frogs, already out, will be an attraction as will lizards for some, said Westville-based Nick Evans.

And the stiletto snake.

“After the rains we do see stiletto snakes,” said Evans.

“One needs to be careful of them. They don’t look like much – they don’t rear their hoods up like cobras – and people pick them up.

“It is venomous but not lethal. It has a cytotoxic venom, which causes tissue damage and someone who is bitten does need medical help.”

Durban North-based Jason Arnold said things were already picking up and that when the humidity increases, “snakes will go wild”. Mating season means the usually solitary creatures may be encountered in twos, as females search for food and males search for females following a scent they drop.

“They will lay eggs around November and December and the eggs will hatch around January or February,” Arnold added. “What’s important for people to know is that females snakes – with the exception of pythons and skaapstekers – don’t remain with their eggs.

“They lay them and continue with their lives. So, by the time the snakes hatch and people start finding them, the mother is long gone. “People tend to associate baby snakes with a mother having to be close by. This is not the case, with the exception of the python and the skaapsteker. Baby snakes fend for themselves from birth.”

Arnold said another thing to consider is that around the same time baby snakes hatch, there is a lot of activity among blind, thread or worm snakes. “The adult size of these snakes is generally between seven and 15cm, so these little snakes are often confused with baby snakes.”

He noted that puff adders, Gaboon vipers, adders, mole snakes , rinkhals and slug eaters are the only live-bearing snakes in SA and that they too may be close to their offspring after giving birth. The three snake catchers said they had not seen new trends in mating seasons in recent years.

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