Just what value is attached to the removal of a problem snake is a contentious subject in South Africa.
On the surface the issue may appear simple. Some handlers charge, some don’t. However, in small ‘snake-catching communities’ there is more than meets the eye and these issues are often fraught with politics.
I would love to hear from both those that do and those that don’t catch snakes. You can help by providing comments at the end of this post.
On one hand there are snake catchers who will not think twice to get in their vehicle, drive a hundred kilometre round trip, only to move a snake 10 clicks away to the nearest patch of safe habitat – FOR FREE!
The thinking behind this is admirable; disarm a potentially dangerous situation and save the lives of both people and the snake. These snake catchers are conservationists at heart and would rather save the life of the snake by footing the bill than have it killed because someone didn’t want to pay the callout fee.
On the other hand there are snake catchers who will not attend to the callout without the guarantee of some form of financial compensation. The further the drive the bigger the ‘donation’.
The thinking here is that they are providing a life-saving service and that like any electrician or plumber for example, this is a skilled service which deserves payment. Petrol is expensive, catching a snake can take hours and not to mention the risk and medical bills should a bite from a venomous snake occur to the snake-catcher providing the service.
In the USA and in Australia paid snake catching services are common. In fact there are many a business which deal with a range of problem animals, all of which charge a fee calculated by the distance traveled and the amount of work required.
So what is different in South Africa?
I have always been on the ‘conservation’ side of the debate and have always caught snakes free-of-charge, refusing any donations that willing and thankful people have tried to bestow upon me. I have always felt that I am in this for the love and the passion and would rather see a snake rescued safely than hear of a snake being killed because there was a cost involved to calling someone out.
Considering the time and costs involved to snake-catchers, sometimes driving to many sites daily, (I’ve had up to six callouts in a single day) perhaps it is reasonable to ask a small fee – if only to cover the fuel costs. Or does a financial incentive lend itself to other sketchy behaviour by people who prey on peoples fears?
I’m not sure where to draw the line or at this stage how I feel. Perhaps this call is ultimately not up to those of us who catch snakes.
What really matters is what value anyone who would use this service would place on a professional (accredited and permitted) safely removing a venomous snake from your house or property?Would you be willing to pay and if so how much?
Please leave your suggestions, thoughts and comments below and please share this if you know of anyone who has used the service of a local snake-handler.
I would also love to hear your experiences, positive or negative, with problem snakes. Don’t forget you can upload and share all your latest sightings and request and ID on the snake sightings page.
I feel that the more input we can get from the ‘customers’ the closer we can get to a real working solution and service which not only conserves snakes and saves lives but doesn’t burn to much of a hole in the pocket of those which volunteer their skills and expertise.
Looking forward to your response!!