DURBAN - Snake expert Nick Evans has warned the public that with the increase of incidents where dogs are killing snakes, those who attack mambas, often die.
Evans emphasised that snakes and dogs are not friends.
With the summer season upon us, he said he is seeing more sad incidents where dogs are killing venomous snakes, and being bitten in return. He noted however, that this also happens all year round.
While cats kill plenty of snakes, they mostly know that they have to avoid the venomous ones, he said, and as a result, he does not see many similar incidents.
Dogs act out of instinct when they see a snake, he said, adding that most of the time it is the dog that discovers the snake on the property, before the owner.
“By the time the owner can react, it is often too late. I get many calls where the caller will say something along the lines of, ‘My dogs are attacking a snake, are you able to come and remove it?’ I have to then plead with the caller to call the dogs away, which boggles my mind,” said Evans.
Evans said while it is rare, he has experienced incidents whereby people let dogs out to kill snakes.
“Yes, the dog will most likely kill the snake. But if it is a mamba, the dog will be dead soon after the fight, or it ends up in tremendous pain with cobra venom in its eye,” he warned.
He said the first thing that dog owners should do is to call the dogs away.
“If calling them isn't working, spray them with a hose or use a bottle to throw water at them, do whatever you can to get the dog away. Please don't put yourself between the snake and the dog,”said Evans.
In the event that pet owners discover the snake before their dogs, Evans advises to immediately lock them up.
“Please keep them away from the area the snake is in, especially if a snake remover is called, and has to try to capture a snake, while keeping your dog away from the snake at the same time,” he said.
Evans said while it is difficult to prevent a dog from attacking a snake, the best that an owner can do is to train the dog.
“Get it disciplined. If it is well disciplined, you've got a better chance at calling it off. Seek help from a dog trainer if need be,” he said.
Evans said a Black Mamba does not enter a property and seek out for example Jack Russells, Pitbulls etc to fight with.
“They know it's dangerous, they know they'll likely die. They're terrified of dogs. Snakes try to get away from them, if they feel they can,” he said.
There's been many cases where three or four dogs have been killed by a mamba, he said.
Other venomous snakes include:
- A Mozambique Spitting Cobra, if it feels escape isn't the quickest option, will spit in the attacking dogs’ eyes, then try to flee.
- Night Adders, Puff Adders etc, may put on a big hissing show, to try to scare the dog off.
Evans advised that if a dog gets bitten by a snake it should be rushed to the nearest veterinarian as soon as possible.
“If you don't, depending on the species, your dog will either be in agony for a few days, or die.
“If you hear of any incidents in your neighbourhood, involving dogs and venomous snakes, in the Greater Durban Area, please either contact me (you can for emergency assistance as well), or post details on venomous snake/pet conflict in the Greater Durban Area,” he said.