South Africa

Venomous snake removed from Raslouw shop

A shop at a centre in Raslouw has had a snouted cobra safely removed from its premises after the elusive reptile had evaded snake catchers since Sunday.

The snake was safely caught on Tuesday morning, February 20.

Maggle Webster, the snake catcher from Centurion Snake Catchers, said the snake was first spotted on the shop’s security camera on Saturday, February 17.

“They saw it on Saturday night but couldn’t get hold of anybody to catch the snake,” Webster told Rekord.

“That’s when they phoned us.”

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Vincent Webster handling a brown house snake that Centurion Snake Catchers previously attended to. Image provided

Webster said she went to check with security personnel and when she arrived on the scene, they told her the snake had gone into the shop.

“There were big enough gaps under the doors, big enough for a snake to get in.”

The catchers searched for the snake in earnest on Sunday but were not able to find it.

“We looked everywhere. There was only one place we didn’t look because we didn’t know there was a room there – the stock room.”

Webster left her number and instructions on what to do if the snake was spotted again.

On Tuesday morning, she received the urgent call that the snake had been found.

The snouted cobra, a highly venomous snake, was on one of the shelves in the shop’s stock room.

“As soon as it saw me it made a hood, to warn me to back off.”

However, Webster safely caught the snake and said she would release it far from other people later on Tuesday.

Webster said the snake looked as if it hadn’t eaten in some time and may have been searching for a meal.

“There is some building work happening there, so it is another example of people moving in on the snake’s natural home. Where must they go?

“Some people say when they are in situations like this that they would kill the snake, but it is not necessary,” said Webster.

Another snouted cobra, a venomous snake species that can be found in the Raslouw area of Centurion. Webster said that building sites increasingly encroach on the snake’s natural habitat. Image provided

The snouted cobra does not spit and is usually brown to mustard yellow with a darker back or darker mottled or banded back, with a slightly yellow belly and feint splotching with a feint crossbar.

“Snouted cobras have often been found in Raslouw and the outskirts of Centurion area.”

Webster urged residents who encounter snakes to keep their eyes on them, call a certified snake catcher, and always check if they have the necessary permits.

The incident follows after news broke of fellow Centurion snake catcher Hermien Grobler’s harrowing experience of a serious Black Mamba bite.

Webster, who has a deep love for animals, decided to get into the field of snake catching to protect the vulnerable animals.

“They have a purpose in our ecosystem. I feel sorry for them because they have nowhere else to go, they are just animals.”

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Can you spot this snake? Webster advises residents to always keep eyes on the snake as they are difficult to find again. Image provided

As neighbourhoods expand, people are likely to come into contact with snakes at a higher frequency.

Webster decided to do a snake catcher course, where she found her passion.

She has now completed several courses and has obtained the necessary permits to handle snakes, and advocates for education about these often scared and misunderstood creatures.

“If they [the public] understood more about snakes, their behaviour, and why they do what they do, we could save so many of these animals,” she told Rekord.

“When I go out to try and catch a snake, one of my priorities is to educate people.”

Snouted cobras are hooded, usually brown to mustard yellow with a darker, mottled, or banded back. image provided

Webster offered the following tips when encountering snakes:

– Keep a safe distance from the snake, at least five steps back, to avoid unnecessary risks.

– Always prioritise safety for yourself, children, and pets.

– If possible, try to identify the snake from a safe distance.

– Be aware of specific characteristics of venomous snakes, such as hood flaring, spitting, or distinctive colour patterns.

– It’s crucial to keep your eyes on the snake and monitor its movements.

– If calling for assistance, providing accurate information about the snake’s location is essential for a successful removal.

– In case of a snake encounter, never attempt to handle or pick up the snake if you are not familiar with the snake species.

– Call a professional snake catcher with valid permits for safe and humane removal.

– Promote awareness in your community about snake encounters.

– Encourage people to keep a safe distance, observe, and report snake sightings to local snake catchers.

– Killing snakes is unnecessary and harms the ecosystem.

– Keep yards tidy and free of debris to discourage rodents, which may attract snakes.

– Regularly inspect and seal potential entry points around the property.

– Understand that snakes are more active during certain seasons, especially after the first good rain and when the weather is warmer.

– If venom comes into contact with eyes (human or animal), flush with water for at least 20 minutes.

– Seek immediate veterinary attention for pets, and consult a doctor for human exposure.

“Most snakes will not try to bite you as they are likely trying to escape,” Webster said.

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