For the first time in 40 years, local snake catcher Zane Barnard has been bitten by a snake, and has landed in hospital for two days.
Barnard was helping remove a snake from a property in Pelham on Wednesday morning when a night adder took a bite at his left thumb.
“I received a call from a woman to come and help her get a snake out of her simplex on Topham Road at about 9 am on Wednesday.
“I did not have my full working kit but I had an improvised kit that I could work with. As I was lifting it out to release it the snake bit a small part of my thumb,” said Barnard.
The small bite soon led to Barnard’s whole arm swelling up and he spent the past two days in hospital. Barnard said serious pain from the bite only started to subside at about 2.15 am yesterday morning when it became a “dull numbing pain”.
“Night adders were previously considered harmless but now they have actually become increasingly dangerous although not exactly life threatening,” said Barnard.
Barnard said the bite, which was the first he has had in about 40 years, has not deterred his passion for snakes.
“After the bite I cursed out in pain but I still rescued the snake and released it in the Bisley nature reserve area. The woman I was assisting asked me why I didn’t just kill it, but that is not why I do what I do.
“I’m still very passionate about snakes and conserving them. Even though they are sometimes regarded as bad, they still serve their own purpose in nature,” said Barnard.
“The first time I was bitten by a snake was when I was 15 years old. And then I still didn’t learn my lesson and it happened again when I was 16.
“However, since then I have always exercised great caution when handling snakes, it only a pity this time that I did not have my full rescue kit,” said Barnard.
He said he should be released from hospital by this afternoon. “I’m fine, only in a lot of pain and I have swelling,” said Barnard.
Another snake expert, Mark Enslin, said it was important to always be cautious when catching snakes.
“Catching snakes is like riding a bicycle. You have to fall a couple of times before you are able to ride it properly. We have also been bitten by snakes numerous times, but we still need to be careful every time,” said Enslin.
He said Barnard was lucky a night adder’s bite was not “too dangerous”.
Enslin encouraged people to always call the police or an expert when they need to remove a snake from their yard and said it was very important to remain calm once you were bitten.