Some duties which a Guide sometimes needs to fulfil is to go and catch snakes out of the guests bungalow. On the 2nd of January about 22:20 I had a call from my Duty Manager to say there is a snake at number 36, so I went out and identified it as a Brown House Snake. It is a constrictor that grabs its prey and suffocate it to death. So it is not venomous at all and picked it up and showed the guests the 2 creamish colour lines on the side of its eyes with the brown skin colour. That is the easiest way to identify it. Say good night to the guests and off I went, and thought, sjoe luckily that was a easy one!!
Just got back in my room, here is the cellphone ringing again, another snake at 91, and it was the same bungalow where I caught a puffadder in the afternoon. Got there and see but hey it is the same guys as in 36. They showed me where the snake is, and there it was, a small Earthworm size black, brown in colour with not a clear distinction between the tail and the head and couldn’t identify it, but looked like a Blind mole Snake which is also not venomous. It went into a little hole between the 2 bricks and asked for low warm water to pour it down the hole. It came sailing out and I picked it up with my hands and talked to the guests, saying I am going to sleep now, because tomorrow I am waking up early again. And the snake catcher in my one hand and this harmless little earthworm in the other I jumped over the small wall, instead of walking around it. Suddenly I just felt lots of burning pain and knew the thing had bitten me, but not scared at all, because the blind mole snake is not venomous. Climbed into my bakkie and the pain got so bad, that my whole thumb went numb and I couldn’t hold onto the snake anymore and it fell out of my hand inside my bakkie. Climbed out showed the guests it bit me and said hope it is not venomous. Called my Duty Manager, explained what happened, and got to my room starting paging through my snake book of Johan Marais- A Guide to the Snakes in Southern Africa.
In the mean while I let my mom know, which was a big mistake, because immediately the maternal care kicked in and called my friend where I had a braai before I was called out. My friend said quickly rush to me and my dad will take you to the Doctor. At that time my whole hand was burning and Identified it as a Southern Stiletto Snake, which says in nice Red letters: DANGEROUS, which means hospital care is needed.
To make a long story short, eventually after about an hour and 10 minutes after the snake bite I arrived at the hospital, my whole arm is dead, all my glands were swollen of its neurotoxic venom and my throat was completely dry. Luckily the casualty personnel was quick and the drip was in my right arm, feeding antibiotics through.
I went into ICU for 2 and a half days for observation, and got morfien twice for the pain. They discharged me on the Saturday afternoon and was booked off until the 21st of January. Luckily with all the prayers and thoughts of everyone I recovered well and didn’t loose any fingers or anything!!!
The big lesson I learned out of this whole situation is not to judge a snake on its size, colour, or thickness, but to handle all snakes as if they are venomous!!!