Snakes in the city

A local snake handler said that a lot more snakes are being seen in residential areas so people must stay vigilant.

Davine Sansom with a mole snake she recently caught in the Table View area.

Residents are warned to keep their eyes open for snakes this festive season.

Local snake handler, Davine Sansom says people need to be more vigilant of their surroundings because she’s been getting more and more calls to remove snakes from properties.

Ms Sansom suspects that more snakes are being seen in the area because of the change in weather patterns and there might also be a shortage of food in the reserves, where the snakes are usually found.

Ms Sansom, who has been a snake handler for four years, says she has always had an interest in wildlife.

“It’s quite challenging at times, especially because often you deal with people who are afraid of snakes – which is normal because most people are afraid.

“But I like to let people know that they should try to be calm. The snakes are, more often than not, more scared of you. They are quite shy creatures,” she says.

Snake handler, Davine Sansom recently caught this Cape Cobra in Flamingo Vlei.

According to Ms Sansom, between September and April, there’s often a lot of movement from snakes, and people might see more and more of them in residential areas. However, she says, this year has been extraordinary because between August and last week, she’s caught 15 Cape cobras. In the same period last year, she says, she only caught three.

“There are two very dangerous snakes between the areas of Milnerton, Table View, Parklands and Sunningdale. We have the Cape cobra and Africa’s most venomous snake, the boomslang.

“The boomslang is highly venomous but it’s very shy. It’s poison is slow acting but is deadly. The venom is hemotoxin which means it destroys the blood’s ability to clot, which leads to internal and external bleeding.

“The Cape Cobra’s venom is fast acting. It has neurotoxic venom which attacks the nerves in the body. Its venom affects the nervous system, the heart and your breathing,” she explains.

Ms Sansom says other common snakes in the area are the mole snake, olive house snake, brown house snake, Aurora house snake and the Karoo whip snake.

Of these five, the Karoo whip wnake is the only mildly venomous snake, but its toxins are only enough to kill small rodents and lizards that eat it. The other snakes may not be poisonous but Ms Sansom says their bite can be very painful, especially that of the mole snake.

Last week – on Monday and Tuesday December 14 and 15 – two Cape cobras were found in Flamingo Vlei and Ms Sansom responded to both calls. She says when she catches them, they are released into one of the nearby reserves.

“I’d like for people to stay vigilant. When you see a snake on your property, don’t take your eyes off it. Stay a few metres away from it but make sure you know where it is.

“Keep your kids and your pets away from the snake and try to stay calm. The most important thing is to always treat snakes like they are all venomous. If you aren’t sure, call a snake expert or handler.”

If you spot a snake on your property, contact Davine Sansom on 072 809 8908.