It bites and looks dangerous. But unless you are a gecko, rodent or a small bird, the brown house snake is unlikely to harm you. (Picture: Pat McKril)
With summer at our doorstep in South Africa, the City of Ekurhuleni has warned residents to be on the lookout for snakes, especially the venomous ones.

“With the spring season and warm weather, snakes will now be up and about after a long period of hibernation. They will be hungry and in search of food,” city spokesperson Themba Gadebe said.

The city is cautioning especially pet owners to be on high alert and to keep an eye on their domestic pets as they may fall prey to snakes.

From mid-August until late May is snake season, and a number of snakes that are harmless to humans, such as the brown house snake, Aurora house snake, olive house snake and red-lipped snakes, are likely to be found in backyard gardens searching for food like rats and cats.

“Due to their harmless and less defensive nature, these species tend to be easily killed or captured as pets, an illegal and punishable act if one does not have a permit,” Gadebe said.

“Meanwhile, snakes such the puff adder and rinkhals are extremely dangerous, with the puff adder known to be very instinctive, slow in pace and quick to sense danger.”

The rinkhals, or ring-necked cobra, is a fast-moving multi-feeder which is good at faking death.

It is easily identified by the two white stripes that are visible across its neck when it spreads its hood.

Things to do when you come across a snake:

Give the snake the right of way.

Scream and shout, but don’t jump or move.

Keep a distance of about 5 metres from the snake, as some can spit poison.

Watch where the snake ends up so as to assist to locate the reptile once an expert has been contacted.

Don’t try to kill the snake - this may lead to the danger of snake bites.

Call for help.

What to do if bitten by a snake or spat on the eyes or an open wound:

Don’t panic.

Don’t run or try to drive.

Don’t take it for granted.

Get medical attention as soon as possible.