Many hiking groups across Cape Town have reported snakes coming out of hibernation and crossing their paths on trails. According to the Cape of Goodhope (CoGH) SPCA, hikers may spot more snakes as the temperatures begin to rise.
The most common snakes found in Cape Town’s residential areas are mole snakes, which may be scary to see, but are not venomous. “Be more vigilant while you’re hiking, especially in areas such as Tokai, as this is where you enter puffadder territory,” says Tara McGovern, CoGH SPCA spokesperson. “When you come across any snake, its advisable that you give them a wide berth – remember, they’re more afraid of us than we are of them.”
Snakes will begin emerging as the days get hotter, and will disappear as soon as temperatures drop again.
Hikers also tend to walk their dogs in summer more than they do in winter, and McGovern advises that pets be kept on leashes in areas where snakes were recently spotted. “This generally just keeps the dog a little more safe from being bitten by a snake,” she says. “Snakes sense vibration, and so know that you are there before you know they are. In the rare event that a snake attacks your dog, get them to a vet immediately. Do not try to treat them yourself.”
Try to remember the markings or other physical traits of the snake, as some are venomous while others are not. A vet will determine whether your dog will need anti-venom.
“Snakes may also move into residential areas as the weather gets hotter because they also become thirsty,” McGovern added. “You can put some water on the lid of an ice-cream container and leave it in your garden on warm days, as a snake may come looking for something to drink. Keep any doors leading out to your garden closed, as your house may be cooler than it is outside, and snakes may enter looking for a cool place to rest.”
McGovern also advises that gardens be kept neat and tidy to ensure no one stumbles upon a snake nestled in the junk of the garden shed. “Tidy up any piles of tools or rubber and such you may have outside, as snakes may also slither to rest among those things,” she says.