Yesterday, when Tom spotted the following information on Facebook, I knew I had to post a story about this crucial skill required in this and many areas of South Africa. Snakes come out of hiding, although they don’t specifically hibernate, as stated here from this site:
“Hibernation has been described as an inherent, regular and prolonged period of inactivity during winter. Hibernation is associated with warm-blooded animals (endotherms) such as mammals. It refers to a period of inactivity and a shut down in the metabolic system to save energy. On the other hand, Reptiles are said to brumate – become less active but do not shut down and will be active with a slight increase in temperature. The term brumate was coined by Wilbur Waldo Mayhen back in 1965 and referred to research he was doing on Flat-tailed Horn Lizards – he found that even if he heated these lizards in winter, unlike other lizards, they would still not feed and become lethargic. Strangely, Mayhen’s term does not technically apply to the standard period of inactivity in our reptiles as our reptiles will become active with a slight increase in temperature on a warm winter day.
Snakes in cold regions of the world go into a state of torpor (inactivity) for long periods, up to 8 months, and often in dens where hundreds or even thousands of snakes may share the same winter shelter.
In Southern Africa, it rarely gets cold enough for snakes to truly go into torpor, and although they are far less active in winter, snakes may emerge from their winter hide-outs on a warm winter day to bask in the sun and drink water.”
It’s astounding how much we can learn about snakes. They aren’t simply slithery, dangerous, venomous creatures roaming in the bush to bite and frighten unsuspecting humans. Most snakes prefer to stay away from human interaction and only bite when threatened.
Sure, there are cases where a human accidentally steps on or runs into a snake and is bitten. But, when reading about most snake bites, it appears they could have been prevented. But snakes are not all about our fear and trepidation. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and must be revered for their role in our environment. Well, volumes have been written on this topic which is more than we present today.
But, the value of safe snake and reptile rescue and relocation is an art in itself. We’ve been impressed by the quality of the work done by Juan and his team. Of course, there are other expert handlers in Marloth Park, but, in most cases, we’ve interacted with Juan, and thus he is highlighted in today’s story.
Both of us were shocked to see how many snakes and reptiles Juan and his team rescued.