CapeNature Promotes Snake Protection During Summer
With summer in full swing, the Western Cape, as always, experiences a flood of warm weather visitors – both human and reptile. During the summer season we are faced with a number of wild snakes found occasionally in residential areas.
Most people are terrified of these reptiles, largely due to a lack of information and understanding of these creatures which could lead to dire consequences for both snakes and humans. However, encounters with potentially deadly snakes are best avoided and we wish to remind you that there are volunteers and experts available who are authorised to capture, remove and release dangerous reptilian visitors.
If a snake is discovered in your garden, please contact your nearest CapeNature regional office as soon as possible. Conservation officials will be able to put you in touch with the nearest authorised snake capturer. CapeNature recommends that snakes are not interfered with in any way, but merely observed from a distance. This will aid the snake capturer to quickly find and remove the snake. These snakes are then released safely in natural areas.
CapeNature encourages members of the public to ensure that anyone involved in snake capture, rehabilitation, or snake shows are in possession of the required and valid permits from CapeNature. Any person or organisation involved in these activities is required to have valid permits in their possession and should be ready and willing to show the permits upon request.
Snakes are an important part of the environment as they play an important ecological role in controlling rodent populations. Members of the public are encouraged to treat them all with respect as the particular snake may be venomous and potentially dangerous.
Snakes can be kept away from houses by trimming dense shrubs away from the building or removing any loose building or other material next to the house. This usually attracts rodents which are prey items for most snakes, including venomous ones. There are at least five kinds of venomous snakes in the Western Cape, namely Puff Adder, Cape Cobra, Rinkhals, Boomslang and the Black Spitting Cobra. A severe bite by any of these snakes is dangerous and potentially deadly.
Ensure your safety
If one comes across a snake in a residential area, do not attempt to remove it yourself.
- Call your nearest CapeNature regional office (contact details listed below) or your nearest nature conservation authority and you will be put in contact with an authorised snake handler, or you can download a list of permitted snake handlers here: Western Cape individuals permitted to catch and release snakes
- Keep your distance from the snake, while watching its movement. Take note of what is it doing and where is it going.
- Clear the area and keep everyone, including dogs, away from the snake.
Emergency protocol in the event of a snake bite
- Phone the Poisons Information Helpline number on 0861 555 777 for advice on what to do in the event of a snake bite. Remember it is always useful to know what type of snake has been involved
- Keep the victim calm and immobilised. Immobilise the limb if the bite occurred on an arm or a leg, and transport the victim to the closest hospital at the very earliest convenience
- If the victim has difficulty with or stops breathing, resort to artificial respiration or cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Provide as much information on the incident as possible (time of the bite, the type of snake involved – if it can be identified, and any information on the patient’s reaction to the bite, bearing in mind that a bite by a non-venomous snake can also result in a patient showing symptoms of shock and anxiety or angst
- Cut and try to suck venom from the wound as it will not help
- Use ice or very hot water
- Give the victim alcohol as this will merely assist the spread of the venom
- Apply electric shock
- Inject anti-venom randomly. It needs to be administered by a doctor in a hospital environment. If administered by non-medically trained personnel, it may lead to severe allergic reaction, anaphylactic shock and further complications for the patient
CapeNature Regional Office contact details
- George (044) 802 5300
- Porterville (022) 931 2900
- Oudtshoorn (044) 203 6300
- Hermanus (028) 314 0062
- Driftsands (021) 955 9120
- Riversdale (028) 713 2366
General poison information numbers (non emergency)
- Red Cross War Memorial Children’s Hospital Poisons Information Centre: 021 6585308
- Tygerberg Poisons Information Centre: 021 9389596