Monday, December 24, 2012

snakes alive!

Sorry for the late post - we have 90 people for Lunch tomorrow and I have been peeling potatoes all evening!

Now - the snake.

I don't usually post the snakes we come across at La Rochelle because they are all pretty standard for this area - the most regular being the Mozambique spitting cobras, lots of Brown house snakes, a scattering of vine (or twig) snakes, and then boomslangs. The one that fascinates me - and which I have only ever seen once in the last 12 years, is the Gaboon Viper. This in spite of the fact that the largest specimen found in Zim came from......the Imbeza Valley.

So back to the one in the pool. He was hanging onto the metal railing by the steps - and is...... a 'Centipede eater'! The Latin name for him is Aparallactus guentheri, and his proper English name is 'Black centipede eater'

Now - there are probably folk out there puffing their cheeks out saying they have seen loads of centipede eaters - but in fact there are no less than ten distinct types of centipede eater - just as there are several types of cobra. I had previously been told (on the other occasion that we found one in the pool - these guys are slooooow learners!) that these particular snakes only occur on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border - and only in a very small slice of territory. This was confirmed by the first web site that I looked him up on - Iziko. Howwwwweeeeevvvveeerrr - another web site claims that they are fairly common in Tanzania, and are also found in a few African countries - Zim amongst them.

So maybe not as rare as I first thought. I have asked our local surgeon - who is snake fundi, to find out for me.

They live predominantly underground (when not swimming in the pool) and feed exclusively off centipedes. Thought they are venomous - they are not lethal to humans, are back-fanged, and live most of their lives underground. So maybe a threat to small-fingered miners, I suppose.

Black in colour - they are slender snakes, growing to an average of 40cm, and a max (like this chap) of just under 50cm. The most distinctive feature is the twin yellow bands on the back of the neck - making them quite easy to identify. Tomorrow a pic of a centipede - but for now - here is a fairly, if not very, rare snake.....

Not a bad swimmer - in fact quite good.

Of course - having put him into a cooking pot in a plastic icecream container - someone had to lift the lid off the container. So that task fell to Wellington - the kitchen porter. In the background you will notice Christinah the cook and Nyasha the waitress keeping the standard Zimbo distance from a snake - hoping all the time that Wellington makes a mistake, gets bitten, and gives them some real entertainment!

Here he is - in an icecream container, in a huge stainless steep cooking pot - and tomorrow I will show you what happened when Preacher the maid came across a cooking pot in the car park for no apparent reason.........and looked into it! THAT is going to be a good Christmas present for you all!
Happy Christmas one and all!

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