Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Boomslang in the winery

This year a young male Boomslang found his way into the winery, looking to prey upon the numerous frogs that gravitated to the wet conditions of the cellar. Initially many of the team had to be restrained from heading for the hills but after we all became involved a few times in ushering the slithery fellow out, everyone was able to contemplate sharing (with caution) the space with him.

Ushering the Boomslang out of the cellar. Some close-ups and one of the ill-fated toad.

The snake eventually settled in a creeper outside. 

Although Boomslange are very shy with no fatalities recorded in the country for many years, we did want him out. However our attempts at catching him came to nought despite encouraging him into pipes and Diana’s half-hearted attempt to nab him with the braai tongs.

Agatha, our French volunteer took a video of the snake eating a large frog. Impressive

As a result of the boomslang episode and knowing that of course the Western Cape is full of snakes, Diana attended a day long snake awareness and handling course. She reports:

Top left clockwise: 1) Diana at the course. 2) Puffadder. 3) Cobra displaying hood. 4) Handling a Cobra. 

“I discovered that the only snake we need really be careful about on the farm is the cobra with its neurotoxic venom. Puffadders are haemotoxic so you have a lot of time and Boomslange take 48 hours to become lethal.  We now know what to do in the unlikely event of a cobra bite and I am pleased to know that Swartland Hospital nearby has a respirator"

Of the snake handling:

“We had to catch fat puffadders with a crook thing and fast moving cobra’s and boomslange with tongs on a stick. Despite my initial terror, I could really feel (as opposed to being told) that the snakes are terrified of us, and that all they want to do is get away. It was quite fun after that. (Although not so much for them being repeatedly released and caught by anxious participants.)”

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