Recently, my fiancee’ (Joelle) and I attended a call-out in Westbrook (near Ballito).
We knew what we were dealing with beforehand, fortunately. The caller had sent me a photo, it was a Short-snouted Grass Snake, something I don’t often see! The caller wasn’t keen to wait for it to move off- it was near his children’s jungle gym, and he wanted it removed. I was quite excited, it’s always nice to catch something a bit different. Plus, I don’t have any photos of one!
When we ar…rived, the snake was basking alongside a wall. I approached slowly, knowing that these snakes can move quickly if they want to!
I tried to grab it with my tongs, to not risk getting closer which would scare it. As I did, it started twisting, almost like the death-roll of a crocodile! I immidiately let it go, and then it bolted. I chased after it, it was unbelievably fast!
As it was reaching the road, I dived, like Jonty Rhodes used to when he was about to make an amazing catch, and got hold of the tail with one hand. I panicked a bit, as I know that these snakes can drop their tail, just like a gecko! Quite unusual for a snake. So I quickly grabbed further up the body with my other hand, and got it safely in a bucket. That was my exercise for the day! I think bystanders, including Joelle, had a good giggle at my antics.
The Short-snouted Grass Snake does possess a mild venom, but it has little, if any effect on us. Their incredible speed is used for chasing rats, but also to escape predators. So, if you do see one, don’t worry, you won’t have to outrun it (you may fail in anycase!), it will use that speed to move in the other direction 🙂
To ID: Light brown snake, with a dark band going down the back, and a light dotted line going down the spine. Underneath the head can also be very yellow.
I photographed it just before setting it free.
Snake removals in the Greater Durban Area: 072 809 5806 (Nick Evans).