As the weather warms up, Cape Town’s cold-blooded critters are peeking their heads out to enjoy the sunshine. The Parkscape Facebook page has put out a reminder that warns nature-lovers to be careful when enjoying the woodsy outdoors, as social media users have already reported snake encounters in Tokai Forest.
“With the weather warming up, please be aware that the snakes in the conservation site are coming out to bask. Please be particularly mindful of children and dogs. There is a resident cobra near the lookout deck, which was seen yesterday [in Tokai Forest],” the page said.
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,” said 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 begin emerging as the days get hotter, and will disappear when 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.”
“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.”
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