News / South Africa / Local News

Anan Jacobs
2 minute read
14 Jan 2020
2:56 pm

Snakes slither into Pretoria homes after heavy rains

Anan Jacobs

The reptiles often seek shelter in garages, outbuildings, swimming-pool pumps, and electrical boxes.

Snake catcher Nico Engels, who lives in the north of Pretoria, is called out to catch snakes all over the city. Image: Pretoria North Rekord

Since the heavy rains in Pretoria, there has been a proliferation of snakes, some formerly quite rare, like the Mozambique Spitting Cobra, reports Pretoria North Rekord.

These reptiles feed on frogs that are brought out by rain, as well as rats and mice.

Snake catcher Nico Engels, who lives in the north of Pretoria, is called out to catch snakes all over the city.

He said they often seek shelter in garages, outbuildings, pool pumps and electrical boxes.

Engels has given a few rules/tips for when you encounter a snake:

  • Keep a watchful eye on the snake from a safe distance, about four metres, as some snakes can spit quite a long distance into your eye. Treat it as dangerous until identified but call a snake catcher to remove it rather than kill it.
  • If you are bitten, it is always best to get to a hospital with as much detail about the snake as possible so that they can be ready for you on arrival. If no symptom is visible or felt, still go to the hospital for a 24-hour observation.
  • Bite symptoms vary from snake to snake.

Many venomous snakes have neurotoxic venom, which attacks the nervous system, causing paralysis and organ failure.

Others, like the Mozambique Spitting Cobra, have a cytotoxic venom, which destroys the tissue cell by cell which causes severe pain and swelling. These bites can be treated with polyvalent antivenom.

Heamatoxic venom destroys red blood cells, disrupts blood clotting, and/or causes organ degeneration. The boomslang has this kind of venom. Monovalent antivenom is for this bite.

If a snake is threatened, it will first try to defend itself. Some will spit at you to try to get rid of you. If you still harass it and you are close enough, it will strike. If a snake is cornered, stand still and let the snake relax. When the snake starts to move away from you start moving backwards as slowly as possible.

Engels urged people to look on the African Snakebite Institute website for snake removers anywhere in the country.

They usually work free of charge or for a small fee or donation for petrol.

Nico can be contacted on 073 197 3852 or 071 677 2186. He can also be reached on Facebook, or via email, at

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