Snakes and rats: Do we attract snakes?

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Snakes and rats: Do we attract snakes?

Snakes and rats
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Rats attract snakes. Or rather, snakes feed on rats among other rodents and other mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, amphibians, insects and eggs. Do we need to exterminate rats or should we let the snakes have their meal?

Snakes slither through human habitations in search of food, water or shelter. During dry seasons, water is the main attraction. But during other days of the year, food such as rats, attract them near homesteads. When snakes are shading their skin, they may enter houses because of the warmth, comfort and the less like hood of coming into contact with other non – human species who might hinder the slow process of peeling of their skin. This will happen if their habitat has been destroyed.

When snakes come into contact with humans during their most vulnerable moments, there is always the likelihood of one party or both being injured or killed. The snake is scared the same way people are. Both parties want to survive. There is the release of adrenaline from both species with the need to fight or flee.

According to World Health Organisation, about 5.4 million snake bites occur each year, resulting in 1.8 to 2.7 million cases of envenomings (poisoning from snake bites). There are between 81,410 and 137,880 deaths and around three times as many amputations and other permanent disabilities each year. Only 600 snake species out of the global 3000 snake species are venomous. Therefore, not all snakes can cause death, but as human beings, the snake will always be a snake – dangerous. In many instances, a snake can die and at the same time the person bitten by the same snake may die to. This is disheartening considering the importance of snakes in our ecosystem and the fact that more snakes, especially non – venomous snakes are killed more than the number of humans who die of snake bites.

Development and human population growth has resulted to snake habitats reducing every single day. Humans, through our living habits, have attracted rats, whether we know it or not, which snakes love. A snake, which is not venomous but wholly feeds on rodents such as rats, could enter a human compound. These snake could attract another snake, possibly a snake-eating snake which is in most cases is the apex predator. These particular one is most likely venomous. Both snakes may escape the wrath of people in the compound or houses. This is in a lucky situation. The worst case scenario, the snake or snakes may come face to face with a human. What happens next depends on whether the person or people who come across the snakes are willing to let them go their way, call snake experts or take matters into their own hands.

There is always a choice.

What can we do to reduce the number of snakebite incidents not only in snake prone areas but even in the urban or sub-urban areas where the harmless blind snake is not always lucky? We need to avoid the chance of getting bitten by a venomous snake in the first place.

  • Create more awareness. When people know what to do and what not to do when they encounter a snake then they will have a better understanding of how to approach the species, whether venomous or non-venomous.
  • Keep clean. Rubbish and waste attract as rats which are in the snakes’ diet. If snakes are a common occurrence in your area, maybe the number one problem is how you manage your waste.
  • Trim grass and hedges regularly to avoid snakes from hiding within.
  • Do not keep chicken in the house. Snakes love to feed on eggs too and for some species the chicken.
  • Watch your step. Always look at where you are walking especially if the view below is not clear. You do not want to awaken a venomous snake.
  • Do not intend to harm the snake by throwing stones at it or wanting to fight back. The snake will become more dangerous as you have now become a threat.
  • When moving or lifting piles or wood always be careful. Move the wood to disturb any snake that may be under the pile or lift the pile with other pieces of wood or tongs to avoid any venomous snake from biting you.

In the case you are bitten by a snake or even spot a snake in you compound, these contacts are important. Getting help should be the first thing you do.

  • Bio – Ken Snake Farm Emergency Snakebite Phone: +254 718 290324.
  • Kenya Wildlife Service also responds to snake related issues through their toll free numbers 0800597000 or 08002215566.

You don’t have to love snakes. You only need to respect snakes.

Featured Image credit of Flat-Snouted Wolf Snake.

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Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui
Vicki Wangui is a believer in all things beautiful. A believer in spreading information in regards to environmental awareness. A believer in sharing all that is good in Kenya's natural world. A believer in speaking truth with no boundaries. Do you have a story, photo, experience or message you need to share? Send your work to vicki@nyikasilika.org or vickiwangui26@gmail.com.

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