- Don't drink and catch cobras One of our guides was called to my house when I was away on holiday at the time that I worked at Sossusvlei Mountain Lodge. Each night our power would be off, and we shared our satellite TV with the Chef next door. His girlfriend had gone into our house to turn on the power to the TV reception, and met a Black Spitting Cobra.
The ranger had already had a beer in the afternoon, as he had the afternoon off with no guests. As he was the only one around who would catch the snake, he was called. After all, he had only had a couple drinks?? Anyway, the snake was caught, but he got spat on.
He didn't think much of it, and took the snake out to release it. Later he broke out in an amazing rash. I got back soon afterwards from my leave and we phoned a doctor who was interested in snake bites. He was amazed, even excited at the reaction. It's a rather rare snake, and lives in areas where there are few humans, and it has a rather unsual venom. In the end, it eventually just cleared up. But it taught the ranger a couple lessons!
- Careful who you look in the eye One of the nature conservationists on our reserve also had a run in with a Cobra. I was working in Windhoek that year (2003.) One day I saw him in Windhoek. He told me that he had been in hospital because he had been spat in the eye by a Black Spitting Cobra. He had seen a small snake in the grass by his house, and it went under a little ledge. He didn't recognize it, as we don't often see the younger forms of these snakes.
He got his snake stick and looked under the ledge of the house. There are many small constrictors in the area that are harmless. We don't often see the more venomous snakes. So he didn't expect it. But as he bent down the snake spat him straight in the eye.
He knew right away that it was bad. He ran the hosepipe on the small lawn they have, and just poured water over his eyes. He was flown out to hospital and had a painful couple days, but recovered fully.
Situations like this are really rare. Much more often one encounters the small benign snakes, and even when you encounter cobras, things usually don't go wrong. It's usually hard to even get a decent look as these snakes do their best just to disappear. In all cases of being spat at, the victim was handling the snake.
Many people fear snakes a lot, but if you learn to appreciate them, respect them, then they soon become fascinating.