Home Articles Tales of Zambia Close encounters of the snake kind.
Close encounters of the snake kind. Print E-mail
Written by Dai   
Saturday, 09 January 2010 13:02

Recounting of snake incidents has become a tradition among expatriates. Here's a few more, ranging from the amusing to the mystical.

Douglas, a fellow teacher at Kalabo Secondary School, Western Province, was minding a house for someone in Lusaka. As he was sitting in the lounge he noticed a large snake near the window. To arouse the houseboy he shouted "Snake, Snake" The boy came casually from his quarters with a grin on his face. It turned out that the snake was a stuffed one strategically placed to frighten off unwanted visitors!

A young American biologist, based at the embryonic Liuwa PLain Game Park, visited Kalabo a week after he had been bitten by a cobra. Foolishly he had put his hand down a hole to catch a lizard and ended up having one of his fingers punctured by a cobra's fang. Subsequently he had to go back to the USA to have skin grafting to his hand.

Father Patrick, an Irish priest based in Kalabo, kept snakes in an oil drum. An unusual hobby for someone named after St Patrick, who is reputed with ridding Ireland of snakes. He was also a magician!

My personal encounter was with a four foot python. I was driving back to Chadiza from Chipata when the school's lab technician spotted the snake on the road. I reversed the car and then we chased the snake into the bush where it had curled itself around a brach of a tree. We cut the branch and placed it in the boot with the snake. On arriving home I plcaed the python in a rabbit hutch and left it on the stoop. We had a disturbed night listening to the snake trying to escape! The python is a protected species so the next day I drove out to a quiet place and released it, much to the relief of my wife and other teachers.

One afternoon , when I was on duty, there was a commotion outside one of the girls' dormitories. I was told that a sick girl had seen a snake in the dormitory. The girl also claimed that the snake had brought a message from her uncle or words to that effect. I will leave you to decide if it was a real snake or a figment of the girl's imagination.