How to identify a bush snake and what to do if you find one in your roof
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DURBAN: With the coming of the warmer months, longer days, and shorter nights, a common sighting in many a Durban garden is the common spotted bush snake.
According to Nick Evans, a well-known snake catcher and favourite among IOL readers, this snake causes more panic than any other.
Also known as the variegated bush snake or a garden snake, these snakes are often found in roofs, where it's warm and safe and loaded with geckos.
Evans has given some tips on how to easily identify the spotted bush snake:
- less than one metre long
- slightly thinner than the average adult's pinky finger
- black specks or stripes that run half-way down the body
- tail end is plain green
- light yellow belly
“I have been getting plenty of calls already. Most of them are in roofs because it's warm and safe, and there are plenty of geckos, which are their favourite snack. If you find one in your roof, there isn't much you can do. Luckily, there is nothing to worry about because they are non-venomous,” he said.
Evans said residents should not burn tyres or pour Jeyes Fluid, or bother with repellent foggers.
“You would be wasting your time. Just leave it and it will go away on its own. It's there to eat geckos and will soon move on. Like most snakes, they are terrified of us,” he said.
Bush snakes are often seen poking their heads out of air vents in walls.
Evans said there isn't much that can be done when this happens.
“Best is just tape a piece of cardboard over that air vent for the day. Other places they frequent are burglar guards, curtain rails, postboxes, bathrooms, bedrooms, cars – pretty much everywhere," he said.
What to do if a snake is in your roof:
“If possible, take a photo of it and send it to your local snake catcher to confirm what snake it is,” he said.
- If it is outside, leave it alone. It will go away
- If it is near your window or door, use a broom to gently “shoo” it away
- Never use your hands and do not pick it up
- If it is inside and far from a door or window, coax it into a bucket and release it outside
“If none of these options suit you, contact your local snake catcher, who will come out for a call-out fee of around R350 to R450. Snake catchers are not funded by the government, or any other organisation, and it is a costly service to run. I personally do many free calls, in rural areas or underprivileged areas or households, and am happy to do so. But these are for life-threatening emergencies or cases where protected species are involved. I know I'm not the only snake-remover to operate like this. Bush Snakes do not fall into those categories. It would not be possible for us to attend to every bush snake call, financially and time-wise," he said.
Evans pleaded with people not to kill these snakes.
“It is unnecessary, cruel, and it’s a living animal that feels pain and they cannot harm you, your child or pet. While they have adapted well to suburbia, due to the amount of hiding places and geckos, it still must be quite confusing for them to navigate. I have given non-lethal options.They have to deal with electric fences, cross busy roads, avoid cats and dogs, and dodge people with spades. We need to try and adapt to their presence which, for the most part, you don’t even know about,” Evans said.