November 27th, 2011
As many of you saw on my Facebook status that I found my first scorpion in my hut. I actually new it was there, but didn’t know what it was, and cohabitated with it for about an hour. It wasn’t until I was shaking out my pajamas (as I was instructed to do after a safety session at IST) that I decided to really find out what was in the middle of my floor. It was then I realized it was a tiny, orange scorpion (public thought is the smaller the more poisonous, but I don’t know how true that is). I think it had fallen from my roof because it had a spider web stuck to it. It hit it with some cardboard and it took off. Those suckers are fast. I threw the cardboard on top of it and it thankfully stopped. Then I calmly swept it out my door into the night. I didn’t even have to have my host dad come and deal with it. How’s that for integrating? My host mom said she found a really big one in her house last week. Uhg, I hope that’s the only one I have to deal with. A fellow PCV was stung by one a few weeks ago and her foot swelled up twice its size but she is fine now. Still I don’t care to find out first hand what a scorpion sting feels like.
This same day I was also informed that a snake killed the female turkey on my homestead. No one saw it but they found her dead in the field as if she died mid-run. She was nesting so my host mom had to transfer her eggs to a chicken to sit on. We have dozens and dozens of baby chicks right now. More chicken = more snakes. But we finished plowing our fields and they say that helps keep snakes away because they prefer living in bushes and vegetation. We are advised to keep chickens away from our huts and many of my fellow volunteers warned me to keep Penny out of my house. I told them not to worry; she has her own house. She really does and she insists on sleeping on a bed. I have started calling her Princess Penny.
Here is a rundown on all the wonderful snakes here in Swaziland:
Black Mamba (imamba): grey body, black mouth, lifts head and hisses before striking, poisonous.
Green Mamba: green body, long and slender, likes orange trees and humidity, poisonous.
Puff Adder (Libululu): short and fat, rough scales, triangle shaped head, strikes in S position, poisonous.
Gabbon Adder: diamond shaped head, has long fangs and clings to bite, poisonous.
Spitting Cobra (Phemphetfwane): brown with black-scaled edges, spits in a circular motion without raising its head, poisonous.
Python (inhlatfu): Can get to 6 meters long, coils and squeezes pray to death, not poisonous.
Boomslang (lidloti): green body, long and slender, very large eyes, very poisonous – you’re dead in 24 hours.
Who is coming to visit now?
Swazis when they see a snake they decide that it must be killed rather then back away from it as us PCVs are instructed to do. Their method of killing is the classic stick or stone beating. Imagine throwing rocks at a very poisonous and now very angry snake hoping that it will die before it bites you. Doesn’t make much sense but hey what do I know; all MN has had to offer me in 24 years was a Garter snake.