Monday, 30 September 2013

Mozambique cobra vs Dad

The Mozambique spitting cobra - a snake to be reckoned with.

In the blue corner: Naja mossambica, considered one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. It can spit its venom over a distance of up to 3 metres (10 feet) with remarkable accuracy. The bite leads to severe tissue destruction and can be fatal.  
In the red corner: My late Dad (Oom KP). He was a true gentleman, and practically impossible to provoke. Practically.
Spectators: Me (about 10 years old) and my mother.
It was a hot summer evening in the Lowveld, and we were relaxing in the lounge. The concertina-type doors to the veranda were wide open allowing us to hear the distant rumble of an approaching storm, and marvel at the lightning flashing in the boiling cumulus clouds.  Every section of the folding door had a brass rod from floor to ceiling, serving as hinge/locking device. My dad sauntered out to the veranda for a better view.
Unnoticed by us a large Mfezi (local Shangaan name for the snake) had made itself comfortable on one of the handles of the folding door, at about chest level. As my dad walked past, the snake let fly with a squirt and hit him in both eyes. 
Mom made him lie on his back on the kitchen floor and washed out both eyes with copious amounts of milk. This was the old 'Boer' emergency treatment prior to seeking medical help.
It did help to the extent that he could open his eyes and peer around myopically, in severe pain.  That was the only time in my whole life I ever heard my dad swear. He got up and stormed out the back door, digging in his pants pocket for his folding knife. He cut a six foot length off the hosepipe and headed straight back to the veranda again. Mom's protestations fell on deaf ears.
To this day I still wonder if my dad was that quick, or just that lucky. He grabbed the snake by the tail and jerked it down to the floor.  It was still in the process of rearing up and flattening its hood when the hosepipe came whistling down.
By the time he stopped, the snake resembled a Bushman rock drawing of some as yet undiscovered continent.  Flattest snake I've ever seen.
He then consented to being taken to hospital, where he was successfully treated.
My mom refrained from lamenting the short hosepipe.

1 comment:

  1. Wow! What a thing to see! Your dad was far more courageous than I would have been. My mother did the same thing with harmless garter snakes. Myself, any sighting of a snake and I have to work really hard to keep from going into cardiac arrest.

    I remember of seeing Steve Irwin with goggles on being spit at by a similar snake. Do they really make shhhhhwwwwwwiiiiitack noise when they spit or was that a bit of Hollywood sound engineering?

    Very cool blog, good luck with it.

    Sextant (Aka Henry)