Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Snakes alive!

Yesterday I went for a run through "The Dell" - the botanical garden run by National Trust. It is not full of pretty flowers, but rather an amazing variety of shrubs, trees (there are over 160 different trees - most of them 'exotics' brought here from around the world) and succulents.

My two miniature sausage dogs accompanied me - some of the way. Halfway round, one of the dogs stopped and wouldn't go any further, and I rather suspect that there was a snake in the thick bush by the path, as her hackles rose, and she refused to follow me, nor would she approach the bush that held her attention.

We have released several African Rock Pythons into the riverine bush just beyond The Dell itself, and I think it probably was a python, or possibly a Mozambique Spitting Cobra - the other fairly common resident on the property. In fact, I found the skin of a fairly large cobra by the memorial to the lemur in the rose garden at the front of the hotel a week ago, so I know they are around, though they tend to keep very much to themselves. However the cobras generally favour open ground with a clear field of vision and , while the pythons, being ambush hunters, prefer thick vegetation and tend to keep close to water.

Occasionally we have visitors to the garden coming across these magnificent reptiles, and if they are indigenous Zimbabweans they invariably they institute emergency evacuation procedures and then demand a full refund. The funny thing is that other folk pay a fortune to climb onto an aircraft, pay vast sums of money to safari operators then spend several nights in expensive safari camps, just to be able to see a python in the wild. What a funny world we live in?

Tonight I shall go past the spot again - if it was a python the chances are that it will still be there. Hopfully I will return home with two sausage dogs!

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