Snakes in the grass and in your house

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A Black Mamba attacks during a private exhibition in Sofia ,Bulgaria on Wednesday, 28 March 2007. The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) is the largest venomous snake in Africa.

DURBAN – There’s a greater chance of finding snakes in your home until about April. And a snake handler warns that KwaZulu-Natal residents are especially likely to see the scaly creatures, including black mambas, one of sub-Saharan Africa&39;s deadliest snake species.

The province is home to many of these venomous snakes.

Every year more than a thousand people are admitted to the province’s hospitals with snake bites. Between 10 to 50 of these reported snake bite cases prove fatal annually.

Martin Rodrigues, the resident herpetologist at Crocworld in  Scottburgh, south of Durban, warns: "Do not try to catch (snakes). Do not try and kill it. By doing either you&39;re getting close to the animal and you&39;re placing yourself at risk.

"If you have an encounter with a snake, inside your home or on your property, the best advice is to stand away from the snake, about 3m or more which is a general safe distance to be away from them. Keep an eye on the snake and then contact somebody …to remove the snake."

Identifying the snake if you are bitten is not as important as getting to a hospital as soon as possible.

Rodrigues says keeping your property clean is important.

"Make sure you don’t have overgrown vegetation in your garden,, and cut your grass nice and short. Make sure any holes around your home and around your premises are closed in, that there are no crevices or holes, and dispose of your rubbish timeously and effectively – get rubbish off the property. Also make sure that you don’t have big piles of firewood, large clumps of bricks or logs, which are perfect hiding places for snakes."