Mad Martin 'will never do it again'

By Time of article published Sep 30, 2008

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By Jacques Breytenbach

"I heard we have a new president."

It is hard to blame "Mad Martin" for not being up to speed on the country's new political landscape, considering he has other slippery business to attend to, not involving politicians - more like 40 venomous snakes in a 20m2 room.

On Monday afternoon at 5.17pm, Martin Smit officially broke the Guinness World Record for being the first person to live with 40 snakes in a glass enclosure for more than 107 days.

But for Smit and his team at the Chameleon Village Reptile Park and Zoo at Hartbeespoort Dam, their record attempt, entitled "Snake-Sit-In 2008", is not over yet.

Smit has committed himself to stay in the enclosure until Sunday and will only be "free" at around 2pm.

This means that the man from Edenvale would have ultimately spent 113 days in the snake enclosure.

Smit's attempt coincides with raising money for Save a Child, a charity that helps children suffering from cerebral palsy.

Although it is not officially over, the record attempt has had its fair share of problems along the way. Apart from having had the flu and being bitten on his shoe once by a puffadder (luckily the snake's fangs did not pierce the leather) the whole attempt was almost called off when three gunmen stormed the park and stole more than R50 000 that had been raised for the charity earlier this month. Fortunately, insurers replaced the full amount.

The total raised so far stands at R60 000.

Asked what the first thing he was going to do after he got out of the enclosure, Smit said: "I'm going to have quite a few brandies and coke."

Smit elaborated on what he missed and what irritated him.

"The fact that you can go home at the end of a long day and be in your own space is something I really missed. One thing I won't miss from the enclosure is the general destruction the snakes cause in the kitchen. You can't keep house with these snakes. They keep on breaking my plates and cups. They've broken more dishes than I broke when I was four years old," he said.

Smit said he would never do it again. "This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The snakes are not the issue. You can put 1 000 snakes in here with me.

"It is these four walls that are the problem," he said.

Smit said there would be a couple of things he would have to get used to when he was out of the enclosure.

"Things like sleeping with the lights off and opening a box of rusks and not having a black mamba stare back at me, are only a couple of things I will have to get used to," he said.

Park owner Hennie Jonk said that at this stage, he was just relieved that their project was almost over, but added that they had a big project lined up for next year.

"We don't want to give out too many details about our planned project for next year, but it will be bigger than this year's snake sit-in," he said.

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