So, we live in the sticks.
The perks? Peace and quiet. Space. Possibilities. Neighbour’s are further away. You hear the birds in the mornings and evenings, not the traffic. Gardens. We can make as much noise as we want to without worrying about bugging neighbours. And of course, if our neighbours do have loud parties or like revving their car engines on a Sunday morning, we don’t get to hear it. Not bad.
The um….drawbacks? I have mentioned the flies before. Well they are still here. In their hordes. Life has been slightly more bearable this summer as we had some flyscreens installed. Fresh air, especially in the evenings and mornings really has been lovely. They don’t keep them all out. Every time the door is opened you let in maybe 20 or so at a time. But hey, that is the next problem to solve.
Besides the flies though, we have snakes. And they get busy every autumn. Looking for food before winter. And then a spot to hibernate. Unfortunately the toads know this so they seek refuge on the stoep. Well that can be the only reason why normally shy and retiring reptiles MUST seek out shelter and food ON MY STOEP!! Now the odd grass snake and other non venomous visitors can just get shooed off, in fact their presence means the frogs, mice and toads are taken care of. Not a bad situation. And although I will always jump out of my skin when I see a snake, I do know that there are benefits to having some predators around.
But I draw the line at Rhinkals. Well I don’t stick around to draw anything, I grab kids, usually shouting at them to get inside. (To which they may or may not respond but never with the speed that is required).
We have had three this season. On the stoep, here outside the house where my children play. These snakes don’t naturally run away when faced by a threat. No, they stick around, play dead, waiting for a curious three year old to pick it up. Can you imagine what things this mom imagines?!!!!
They also spit. They are in the cobra family. So there’s that too. Adults do stand a chance of surviving Rhinkals bites, not without serious treatment of course, but my little guys?
So what do we do? Regular perimeter checks. (Call me paranoid, but I AM ALWAYS CHECKING the shadows! Which is why I missed the one in broad daylight last time!) Get dogs. Oh wait, we have two and two cats and although they took out the first one this season, they also let the other two totally
walk slither past them. We are looking into getting two more Jack Russels, apparently they are good with them…but just the thought of two puppies at this season of our life (the season of no sleeping as Harry pushes out his teeth!) ……argh! Wait for winter. Oh winter with your cooler days and your frosty mornings and your hibernating snakes!
Any snake collectors want some rhinkals’?
Seriously though, anyone with other suggestions?
** I started this blog in Autumn and of course we’ve had a peaceful few months of chilly snake hibernation, until this week.
The first morning without the birdbath being frozen. We were in the veggie garden prepping for Spring planting. I walked from the garden out to the field. Stopped to take a photo. Then took a step. As I did the ground moved and then there in front of me was a black and white guy, head up, mouth open. I saw that as most of what I remember is the red of it’s tongue in contrast to all the other grey’s and whites and blended in of everything.
I was screaming and running, (Respect for anyone who can hang around in the face of danger and get the shot, but that is a whole other post!) so the next part of the story get’s picked up by our trusty gardener who came to my rescue. The snake reared up and spat and then chased me. After which it turned and disappeared down the hole it had half been out of when I almost placed my foot on it’s head. Of course, according to said trusty gardener, it only retreated when it saw him running with the garden fork he had handy.
I am most exceedingly grateful that I looked down when I did. Thank you Lord.
I am grateful the weather is still chilly enough to render said cold blooded slitherer, a little sluggish. Because I have seen them move in late summer and there is no way I would have gotten far enough away if his blood was thawed.
I am grateful the boys were in the garden on their bikes, far from me.
I am grateful that the gardener was there.
I am grateful that I wasn’t bitten.
And I am even more scared for my boys now.
We seem to have an unusual amount of rhinkals here. And the thing is, their backs are the same grey black colour of our dried out soil. Our soil is clayish, so in winter, when it’s so dry, the ground is a dark grey colour with cracks or lines….perfect for a rhinkals to blend into. And they are aggressive at certain times of the year. The smaller ones around are more “play dead, kind of leave me alone”…but this guy came at me. And it’s not the first time I’ve seen one do it.
Harry is sleeping better, so time for those Jack Russels. Anyone know of any for sale?
Any other advice from my snake loving buddies would be appreciated. The conservationist in me knows that having them around keeps the rats, mice and moles at bay. But the mom in me would make Cecil the lion killer look like Mickey Mouse.