Part 1: Reasons why snakes should be protected

There are so many questions and uncertainties surrounding snakes. When a person does encounter one, usually panic sets in and they kill it. But is that the right thing to do?

Nick Evans from KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian and Reptile Conservation gives us reason why snakes should be protected and not harmed. He also provides ways to safely remove them from your home.

Why we should not kill snakes

There are two main reasons why you shouldn’t kill snakes.

Firstly, they form a key link in the food chain, and without them, the food chain will collapse. If we kill all the snakes, which is starting to happen in some areas, we will be overrun with rats! Snakes also keep the frog, lizard and bird numbers under control. In return, they are an important food source for other animals, such as birds (herons, birds of prey), mongooses, genets and monitor lizards.

Secondly, it is dangerous to kill a snake. You are causing the animal pain, and yes, they feel pain. It’s not going to react in a friendly manner! Killing a snake puts you at high risk of being bitten, so please not do this.

Why do snakes come into homes?

Snakes come into homes or gardens for food or for shelter. If you have piles of wood, corrugated iron or asbestos lying around, or any other suitable shelter, you may have a snake visiting you. In winter, they’ll often come looking for dark, warm retreats. If you have a lot of rats, frogs or geckos around, this too may attract snakes.

What should I do if I see a snake?

Leave it alone! That’s the most important thing. Do not try to kill or capture it. If you’re walking in the bush and you see a snake, keep as still as possible, or move very slowly. It will most likely shoot off in the other direction rather quickly. If you see a snake basking on the path way up ahead, give it a wide birth.

If you see a snake in your garden, keep an eye on it. You can either watch it or enjoy the sighting. You may want to call a snake-catcher for advice on what to do or what snake it may be, or you may want him/her to remove it.

If you want a snake-catcher to remove the snake, it is important that you keep an eye on the snake from a safe distance (5m or so). If it disappears, it’s unlikely to be seen again. Generally though, the snake tends to move off and disappear anyway. You can often just leave them in the garden, especially the harmless ones.

If a snake is in the house, call a snake-catcher immediately for the best advice.


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Lauren Beukes

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