My Zambian Snake Life

We have been here one month short of a year, and I think we have been fairly lucky with our snakes; very few incidents, and mainly juvenile snakes.

Aside from that one time we had a 2.5 metre black mamba in our veranda, within 2 weeks of us arriving. Thank you Lord that I was not home for that crazy incident. Our housekeeper Priscilla (who was petrified of snakes) dealt with the whole drama. Lucy got chased across the drive and carport by a very angry Black Mamba. To be fair, I would be angry if Lucy had been barking incessantly at me in the hedge whilst I was having my lunchtime snooze. Priscilla managed to grab Lucy and run back, just as the mamba shot passed her and into the veranda. She then reached into the veranda, with what must have been a completely wound up terrier under one arm, and closed the veranda door. She said she thought it was best to contain the snake. Well, great news for Lucy, because if it had been me, I would have been out of there and left everyone to fend for themselves!

Since then we have just had;

a few spotted bush snakes 

Two small Mozambican Spitting Cobras (one survivor):

Mozambican Spitting Cobra
a small night adder (Lucy put that one to sleep)

Night Adder
a Boomslang

Boomslang
common wolf snake

Common Wolf Snake

Outside the house on the main estate drive, we had this crazy puff adder.

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So incredible. Security guard was less convinced. 😂

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and a few brown house snakes, but never got photos of those

A couple of weeks ago Priscilla, annoyingly set the bar even higher, by capturing a small spotted bush snake in a large container for us to relocate once we got home. Which unfortunately, for me, that meant that the next incident, which involved an olive marsh snake in our laundry, I had to deal with and get it into a container. Ordinarily I would have closed the door and phoned Erik! I know, what a wimp. I did get it into the container, after a major emotional adrenaline induced mission involving a feather duster, a broom and a towel and some jumping dance moves on tip toe! This snake was not happy and was putting up a fight! This was all followed by about two hours of the shakes and extreme levels of pride.

I am not a massive fan of snakes, at all, but as I am learning more, my tolerance is building. Especially now that I know that every snake is not going to lunge at me and inject deadly fangs into my body.  Education is clearly key. My husband loves snakes, I tolerate them but do not want them touching me! We generally just leave them to it, or we catch them and relocate them further afield.

We have a snake book handy, but we have not found it nearly as useful as the African Snake Bite Institute App, and joining a local snake Facebook group, Zambian Snakes and other creepy crawlies. This has been a huge help for not just identifying, but also educating ourselves and our staff. We printed off posters from The African Snake Bite Institute, for dangerous snakes, and gave these to our staff to keep at home. They are much happier now that they say they understand more. And it is showing in their reactions every time we do have a snake. They even come up to have a good closer look too.

I highly recommend downloading this app, which also includes first aid for snake bites information and contacts for removals. Save numbers onto your phone too, and find out where you nearest anti-venom location is.

Yesterday we had our first incident, which thankfully could have been a lot worse. Lucy decided to take on a small Mozambican Spitting Cobra, it was only about 30-40cm long. I wasn’t there but by the time I heard a commotion and our domestic worker shouted for me, she had swiftly ended it’s spitting life. Not before it got her good in both eyes. I quickly rinsed them under running water and called the vet who gave me some names of eye drops to use after I had given them a good rinse. For those that don’t know, the sooner you rinse the better. You can use milk, but it is no better than just water, and you need to rinse a lot, so use water.  Unless you have your own dairy cow and milk is free?Then we used a drop in each eye. The inside of the eyelids completely swell and puff, that by the time Erik arrived with the drops and I opened her eye, I thought her eyeball had split open and I nearly passed out. Don’t be like me.

The drops are Dexasone that were recommended by our vet. Not the ones pictured but the exact same ingredients. We were just able to get some from a nearby local clinic on the farm. She is fine now. But a good reminder to be prepared, so thought it was worth sharing.

I have heard some ridiculous snake stories in our area, involving a fully grown python, in a bed, with someone in the bed, I might add. Dogs being eaten by pythons. Yikes! Luckily we have not had anything remotely like that.

I’ve learnt to always watch where I walk, peek out the door before I just swiftly walk out, check shoes before putting them on, keep doors closed at all times, keep window gauze shut, at all times! When I go visit someone and see their shoes stored outside, I literally want to die.

So, that’s snake life on my expat life journey so far.

5 comments

  1. I’m looking out of my window at the rain in Winchester and it doesn’t seem so bad! I enjoyed reading this and like what you say about education. It’s true about most things – knowing more about and understanding what you have to deal with.

    Like

  2. Col this is so nicely written. All the emotions, gasp sigh jump eek oooo laugh, and then roped off with the humongous pride and love I have for you.

    >

    Like

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