I relocate snakes and I provide medical help and rehabilitation to snakes that are not so well.
RELOCATION OF SNAKES
When snakes find their way onto peoples properties, they become a danger to residents and pets. In the Western Cape area where I work, snakes become more active in our spring and summer months (September to March).
The snakes in South Africa do not hibernate and are active throughout the year. But, in our winter months, they find warm places to wait out the cold and will come out when it’s a warm day to hunt and bask in the heat. So it is very possible to find snakes all year round in South Africa.
When a snake is spotted on a property, the person will call to ask that I remove and relocate it to a safe place away from people and their homes. When a call comes through, I ask the location of the person and snake at that moment. I ask if they have any pets and to call them away to safety and try to keep eyes on the snake from a safe distance until I arrive.
From there I rush to the address as fast as I can. When I arrive I get straight to the point of locating the snakes; sometimes easier said than done. Once I have eyes on the snake, I can identify it properly. I catch it in a safe, professional manner and place it securely into my snake bin.
I then speak to the caller and provide all the relevant information about the snake. Thanking them for the call to relocate it. I let them know the importance of what they have done as 80% of snakebites happen when unqualified people try to catch or kill snakes. We need snakes in our environment to control pests as they provide a valuable food source for other predators that rely on them.
I let them know what I do at the rehabilitation centre and that I fund it myself as the government does not provide me with any funds. I tell them I do not have a set fee for snake catching as I find it very difficult to put a monetary value on the life of people, pets and the snake itself. I work on a donation basis. If the caller can; a donation towards my time, fuel and rehabilitation work is all I ask.
The duration of a typical catch is around 30 minutes on site to locate and catch the snake. So it’s fair to say a catch takes around 1 hour between driving to the location and having the snake in my box.
From there I leave with the snake. I take it back to my rehabilitation centre where I record information about the snake and do an inspection to make sure it’s healthy and not sick or injured. I provide water as most are dehydrated and then if all’s well with the animal I take it to one of my release sites closest to point of capture and return it to the wild.
Some animals may need medical assistance due to injury by cats, cars, dogs, people or they are just unwell. In these cases, I assess the situation and if it’s within my expertise I will provide the necessary fixes. Some cases are a bit worse and requires me to call a vet to get medication and a second opinion on the animal’s condition. We then work out a suitable plan of treatment and I get the medication needed to fix the animal.
I place the animal in temporary captivity in my rehabilitation centre and begin a record of the treatment needed. The animal stays in the centre until treatment is successful. At this point I relocate it back to the wild to have a second chance at life.
All above mentioned is funded by me. I do educational shows and training courses which I charge for and the money I make allows me to provide these services to our environment and community. On occasion I receive donations from people who want to help me to continue helping the animals. I am very grateful for that help. Unfortunately there is no money set aside for reptiles in South Africa.
REASONS I DO NOT CHARGE A SET FEE
- I cannot place a cost on the life of an animal or the person. Some people may try to handle the situation themselves which can result in a snake bite or they may hurt or kill the snake.
- I get calls from people who cannot afford a set fee because they are living in poverty. Sometimes people will donate what they can in order to help.
- Some people will call asking me to remove snakes from public areas that pose a danger i.e. parks and walkways. I don’t want to discourage this by forcing a set free. This will lead to harm caused on the person and snake involved.
WHY REPTILES ARE IMPORTANT PART OF THE ECOSYSTEM?
They are one of our countries natural resources. They balance our ecosystem and control our agriculture. Snakes control populations of rodents, birds and play an important part in our success on this planet.
Without reptiles there would be an imbalance and we would have too many rats and birds among others that would destroy our crops. Jobs would be lost and food would be short. Illnesses would increase and our economy would be in a bad state.
Other benefits of reptiles are cures for human illnesses such as cancer and diabetes. Snakes have powerful antibiotics and pain relieving properties that we are now beginning to discover. Our environment provides us with a lot more than we know. It’s up to us to look after it so that we can unlock its secrets, helping each another to live better lives. And to understand all of our neighbours we share the world with.
I do what I do out of passion. Passion for nature, passion for snakes and a passion for knowledge to understand these creatures and their secrets. I will continue to do all in my power to help look after them until it is no longer possible for me to do so. At that point, I hope through me and many other reptile enthusiasts, other people will have learnt to step up and do the same. It’s not easy, but it’s worthwhile. It is our duty because if we don’t, who will?
I would like to thank the people who support my efforts and help me to keep doing what I do for reptiles and the community.
If you would like to donate to the centre you can do so via bank transfer. All contributions are welcome and much appreciated.
Account Holder : S Meighan
Account Number : 1381649619
Capitec Fish Hoek : 470010