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Facing the snake in your house

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snake-in-a-houseA lady in Komarock is in her kitchen and notices a snake creeping in. Without fail she takes to her heels and closes the kitchen door behind her and decides to spend the night elsewhere. The following day she calls the Snake Park of National Museums of Kenya which sees the reptile taken away.

According to Jacob Mueki, a Senior Curator at Snake Park, the lady was quite lucky and actually did the right thing given the situation. The small snake turned out to be a Garter Snake, a venomous snake in which its bite has been known to exhibit neurotoxic symptoms.

“Of the families of snakes found in Kenya, only 12 per cent are known to be venomous,” states Jacob. This puts the chances of one getting a snake-bite in urban areas of Kenya quite low but the risks are still there.

Most of the dangerous snakes found in Kenya are mostly found in the coastal areas of the country and warmer parts too such as areas towards Baringo and Laikipia.

These legless, carnivorous reptiles are also found Nairobi though.

“Majority of the snakes found in Nairobi are non-venomous such as the house snakes,” remarks the Senior Curator.

Most of the non-venomous snakes, apart from from the python do not pose a threat to human life. A bite from these snakes though may require one to get a tetanus shot.

Various precautionary measures can be taken to protect oneself from a snake bite.

“Most of the snakes even the venomous ones would not like to bite you unless they have no option,” explains Jacob.

For instance if you step on a puff adder it will bite you as it is trying to protect itself.

One should also take into account the location whereby they encounter the snake. If  one happens to come across a snake in its habitat, it is best to leave it alone.

The case is different though if the snake is in one's home.

“Before you think of doing anything, consider forst whether the snake is venomous or non-venomous,” warns Jacob.

 Just like with the lady from Komarock, one cannot be sure if it is venomous therefore it is best to keep distance. If one is certain though, then they should find a way of trapping it under a container such as a basin or bucket then call Snake Park.

One can also lure the snake onto a stick then remove it out of the house if they are positive that it is non-venomous.

The conservationist in Jacob opposes the idea of killing snakes but says that if the reptiledoes pose a threat to someone, then this is also an option one can use.

Snakes, especially those that like grassland or savannah habitats can find their way into one's compound. Jacob therefore advises to keep one's garden or compound clean, neat and tidy.

“Keeping the grass short and litter-free are just some of the few measures people can undertake to keep their homes snake free,” remarks Jacob.

He especially insists on garbage as it attracts rodents such as rats which in turn bring snakes to the area.

If one happens to find a snake in Nairobi, they can call Snake Park on +254-20-8164134/35/36. They come and collect the snake if it is in Nairobi. For those outside of Nairobi, they offer advice of how to handle such situations. In case of an emergency snake-bite, one can also contact Bio-Ken Snake Farm on +254 718 290 324.

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