Revisiting the Ian Miller incident

30 Oct 2009 13:04 #730 by Odie
Very interesting topic. I live in the Mpumalanga Lowveld and here we have big 5: black mamba, treesnake, puffie, Moz Spitting Cobra and vine snake. They are killed by people on a daily basis, espcially the tree snakes. Since living here I have come to learn a lot more about these guys - other than the puffadder (lazy) you are not likely to see any of these often. And of the 5 mentioned on top only 3 can actually really bite you - tree and vine snakes are designed for bird feeding, you have to apply in writing to be bitten on your fingers.

I have encountered puffadders, bergadders and rinkhals in the berg - once 3 within 500 meters. They just scooted. Other was whilst climbing the route to Organ Pipes via the Camel in heavy mist that a loud hissing warned us looong before we came close - it was too cold for the snake to move away quickly.

Serum is also a controversial topic - all doctors and hospitals nowadays treat snakebites according to the symptoms. So should you be very unlucky and get bitten, stay calm, strap the leg or arm firmly but not tight, relax and let them get you to hospital. A dangerous fact about serum is that snakes look different in the various development phases, so unless you are an expert, we often mistake one snake for another.

I am not an expert, I have just learnt from snake wranglers here and experts that snakes are not a threat - they will run - and that you obviously should not go after them to play with them. And if you get bitten, relax stay calm and get help.

I keep a eye on the track when hiking, and will still be wary, but I am don't fear snakes. Well, the test will probably come if I'm bitten one day, but prevention is my motto!

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30 Oct 2009 13:21 #733 by Otterjasie
I had the privilege to attend a presentation on SA snakes by Johan Marais (a leading SA snake expert) for students in natural science at the North-West University.

His view on antivenom is that the amount of antivenom required by a serious snakebite is several times more than the amount regular "snake bite kits" contain, therefore the amount any normal person will be able to obtain is not sufficient.

Secondly antivenom should only be administered in a well controlled environment like a hospital due to the serious side effects thereof.

On the point of identifying the snake he commented that he knows of several cases where people lost limbs due to an improperly applied tourniquet after being bitten by a harmless snake.

Bottom line being that the best course of action is to stay calm and get to the closest, largest hospital asap. Though I know that this is will not be simple if the bite occurs in the berg (at least we now have helicopters...).

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30 Oct 2009 13:24 - 11 Apr 2014 09:07 #734 by Otterjasie
@ Odie

You forgot about the one on our Giants trip - Unidentified aggressive little b******!
Last edit: 11 Apr 2014 09:07 by intrepid. Reason: removed inappropriate word

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30 Oct 2009 22:12 - 30 Oct 2009 22:20 #737 by intrepid
Thanks to everyone for some useful info so far, keep it coming. Always interesting to come across topics that get people talking.

See the current poll at the bottom of all pages on this site. The topic is which Berg snake causes you the most concern or which you are most worried about. The poll is not intended to cause undue sensation around the topic of snakes, its merely intended to stimulate more thought and discussion among hikers on the topic.

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.
Last edit: 30 Oct 2009 22:20 by intrepid. Reason: typo

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27 Mar 2010 11:23 #1021 by intrepid
Results from the opinion poll "Which Berg snake troubles you most?":

Puff Adder - 32 (56.1%)
Berg Adder - 13 (22.8%)
Rinkhals - 8 (14%)
Cape Cobra - 4 (7%)

Number of Voters : 57
First Vote : Tuesday, 20 October 2009 05:35
Last Vote : Tuesday, 23 March 2010 19:54

Take nothing but litter, leave nothing but a cleaner Drakensberg.

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27 Mar 2010 14:17 #1022 by ClimbyKel
What'd it look like? Hmmm....I'm from Canada and this "agressive" comment makes me a bit cautious.

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11 Apr 2014 08:57 #60292 by ghaznavid
Quite an old thread - but a really interesting one :thumbsup:

I used to be more worried about Berg snakes than I am now. I am yet to see a puffadder or rinkhals in the Berg, but I have seen many bergadders and a surprisingly high number of skaapsteekers recently - skaapsteekers are an endangered species, aren't they?

Any way, I have come close to standing on bergadders at least 3 times, and might well have stood on a baby one on the way to Corner Pass this year. I only saw the snake when Viking pointed it out a bit later. Last year Kliktrak stood on a bergadder on the contour path near Jarding Pass but it also didn't bite him. Both occasions were cold and wet days, in both cases we though the snake must have been dead so the snake was poked with a trekking pole - on the first occasion we got a hiss, bit of movement on the recent time - it may well have been dead.

A skaapsteeker bashed into the side of my shoe coming down the ridge from Rhino Pass - not sure if it was trying to go for me or if it was running away from others in the group. Basically it fled to my right as I was coming, then took a sharp turn and lifted up as I lifted my shoe and bashed into it. It promptly shot off.

Whether or not the snakes are friendly to you on the day, I think its undeniable that these creatures are really beautiful in their natural habitat. I suspect the danger they pose may be exaggerated at times - after all, there have been a number of snake bites in the Berg over the years, but only 1 death from it. Naturally I do rate it as important to know what they look like so that you can identify them if one was to bite you. You should also know the emergency procedure for handling a snake bite before rescue gets there.

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11 Apr 2014 09:29 #60296 by Viking
Funny that - I was actually reading about the Ian Muller incident a couple of days ago again in Dragon's Wrath.

“Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!”

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11 Apr 2014 09:35 - 11 Apr 2014 09:36 #60298 by diverian
Nothing to do with me !
Last edit: 11 Apr 2014 09:36 by diverian.

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11 Apr 2014 10:32 #60304 by relevitt
I sat on a young puffadder in my teens. I was perched on a big clump of grass while we were making tea. Thought I heard hissing, looked around, heard it again, mentioned it to the others, general looking around. Eventually we found the puffadder coiled up deep inside the clump of grass, located only by the sound of its hissing.

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