Knowledge is power

Pamushana | July 2019

Snakes are one of the most feared creatures in the world, especially in our African culture. If my non-guiding peers were asked to choose between touching a lion or a snake, automatically they’d prefer to touch a lion. It is because of a mistaken belief that all snakes are venomous, big or small. So, how do you know which snake is venomous or non-venomous? The rule is to always ask a professional person to identify it for you.

We do have very good examples of non-venomous snakes like the western yellow-bellied sand snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus), and they are very beautiful snakes to watch when they are hunting. They have no fear of man and they often live near human settlements as they prefer short grass and rocky areas where they find their favourite delicious meal – lizards. Some lizards have developed a skill of losing their tails – the tails are brighter than the rest of their body and when the snake is coming to attack them the tail breaks off and the lizard escapes while the snake is fooled into thinking it has the whole meal in its mouth. Sometimes the lizards get caught and when the snake does not swallow them quickly the lizard bites on to the end of the snake’s tail. The snake ends up chasing itself in a circle with the lizard as the link between its mouth and tail! It’s an African belief that if a snake swallows a lizard the lizard bites it from inside!

These snakes also feed on frogs, insects, rodents other small snakes and birds. When they are chasing their prey they move at amazing speed, which makes them successful hunters.

If you manage to watch one closely you’ll find out that they are such marvellous creatures which don’t want to harm you.