I find snakes very beautiful creatures. Forgive me for being a bit too much, but I do and that’s who I am. No apologies. Whenever I say this, someone always thinks I’m crazy and they include me in their prayer item. For me, each species of snake is uniquely different in their own way. Their patterns are captivating, their defense mechanisms are on point, their distribution always intrigues me, their stealth and movement I can observe all day, how their eat their prey is amazing and the rate at which the venom in venomous snakes affects their victim is something I can actually do research on and read about it as if it’s a Nora Roberts novel.
I haven’t yet had the chance to hold a snake or be face to face with one, especially a venomous one, but I will not hesitate when the opportunity comes my way. I have however given snakes there right of way whenever I have encountered one.
Only a handful of people I know would be on my side on this. Normal people shriek at the sight of even a blind snake. To them, a snake will always be a snake, even if it’s a baby snake. ‘Mtoto wa nyoka ni nyoka’ – Swahili Proverb
So why do most people have this innate fear for snakes?
Religiously beliefs have made the snake an evil animal, where anything associated with it is considered a taboo or cult.
You cannot conserve, protect or value what you do not know anything about. There is limited education on snakes, not just in Kenya, but globally. Every snake is poisonous and very harmful to the human ideology. This is not true since only few snakes have the potential to kill. A lot of awareness and education can be done to prevent bizarre killings of snakes that stray into human settlements. Snakes usually prefer to retreat when encountered but can become defensive if threatened.
Snakes are important creatures in our ecosystem. They may be small, for some, but their impact is very huge on our planet.
Did you know there are more than 2600 species of snakes in the world?
Snakes serve as the best natural pest control for harmful bugs and insects, mice, rats and other small mammals that can destroy crops or damage personal property. Snakes being middle-order predators keep our natural ecosystem working. Without them, the numbers of prey species would increase to unnatural levels and the predators that eat snakes (birds of prey, herons, mongoose and other small carnivorous mammals) struggle to find food.
This being the digital error, one can easily learn about snakes through online digital platforms. This group on facebook, East African Snakes & other reptiles, is very informative and has expert herpetologists willing to assist in the case you spot a snake and even what to do when you are bitten by one.
Bio Ken Snake Farm in Kenya, seeks to educate people on snakes and snakes bites and also offers lessons on first aid on snake bites especially in regions with a high number of poisonous snake species and high snake bite incidences. Their website, here, is also very informative. Their Emergency Snakebite Phone: +254 718 290324. The National Museums of Kenya, Herpetology department, is also always willing and on call in case of any snake/reptile related issue. Kenya Wildlife Service also responds to snake related issues through their toll free numbers 0800597000 or 08002215566.
What we should actually be afraid of more is mosquitoes. They are in fact the most deadly creatures on earth, as stated here, and have killed more people compared to venomous snakes, sharks, orcas, big cats, crocodiles, hippopotamus, elephants, rhinoceros and even komodo dragons.
We can adapt to living safely with snakes.