Springtime tips from Crocworld Conservation Centre when encountering wildlife

19 November 2020

The arrival of spring on the KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) South Coast brings a lot of activity – particularly where indigenous wildlife are concerned. The experienced team from Crocworld Conservation Centre in Scottburgh have shared some useful tips for residents who come across snakes and birds in the wild during this time.

“As a conservation centre, the Crocworld staff is always ready and willing to assist injured animals in the wild, or to help with snake removals from areas of human residence,” explained Martin Rodrigues, Manager of Crocworld Conservation Centre. “However, educating residents about our local wildlife and the best ways to keep safe is also an important part of our role within the community. Hopefully, by sharing these insights and tips, we can all live harmoniously with our many wonderful natural residents.”

What to do when a baby bird is found

Crocworld Conservation Centre’s Bird Curator, Ryne Ferguson, is kept very busy rescuing abandoned and injured birds around the KZN South Coast region. However, he warns that there are certain steps to be followed when coming across seemingly abandoned birds.

“As spring gets underway, most of our native wildlife have young,” explained Ferguson. “It’s very important to know that when a young animal is encountered, ones first thought is that it could be abandoned. More often than not, the parents may be out looking for food and know exactly where they have left their young.

Ferguson’s tips when finding a bird are:

1. Observe the bird. Before touching or stressing it in any way, watch to see if it can care for itself or if the parent birds are tending to it.
2. Intervene as little as possible.
3. Return the bird to the nest.
4. Keep the bird safe.
5. If you deem that the bird needs help, place it in a box with air holes in a quiet, dark place.
6. Contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre for assistance.

What to do when encountering a snake

As the warmer weather approaches, the snake activity increases, and the mid-South Coast is home to variety of non-venomous and venomous snake species. James Wittstock, the Reptile Curator at Crocworld Conservation Centre, has shared some safety tips, as well as the most commonly encountered venomous species for the area.

If you do see a snake:

Do not go near the snake.
Keep your eyes on the snake at all times from a safe distance of at least 3m.
Phone a professional to come out and safely remove the snake - James Wittstock on 066 292 0880.
Where possible, take a picture of the snake from a safe distance, and send it to the professional.
Never try to capture or kill a snake as this may put you in harms’ way.

Common venomous snake species on the KZN South Coast

Night adder: They are a grey to grey brown colour with dark, dorsal chevrons running the length of their bodies.
Bibrons stilleto snake: This is a small species of snake, usually a brown-black or jet black colour with a cream belly.
Vine or twig snake: This cryptic species can be identified by its long, green or green-brown coloured head. It has large eyes and a dark line running between the eyes and the mouth. The body is a grey or grey-brown colour with dark blotches and lines running the along the back.
Black mamba: They are usually grey or brown and some specimens may have faint white banding towards the last third of the body. Their narrow head is often referred to as coffin shaped. The inside of the mouth is pitch black.
Green mamba: They are a uniform, bright green colour, with almost all of them having one or more yellow scales at any point on the body.

Less common venomous snake species on KZN South Coast

Mozambique spitting cobra
Puff adder

Common harmless and non-venomous snakes on the KZN South Coast

Spotted bush snake
Western Natal green snake
Eastern Natal green snake
South Eastern green snake
Southern brown egg eater
Brown house snake
Brown water snake
Herald snake
Southern African python
Bibrons blind snake

For full descriptions and images of these reptiles and other local wildlife, check out www.crocworld.co.za or ‘Crocworld Conservation Centre’ on Facebook. Alternatively, contact Crocworld Conservation Centre on 039 976 1103.