Gansbaai Stories - What's your poison?

Andre Hartman, pioneer shark watcher, movie maker and wildlife lover has long been regarded as a more than usually enterprising chap when it comes to wild things. As a commercial diver he sometimes had to put his body on the line, but after he retired he turned to more sedate pursuits, also in part due to the stroke he had suffered, no doubt a legacy of his diving career.

He was and is an enthusiastic and fearless herpetologist and collector of snakes. I ran into him one evening at the old Joy's Kitchen, where there was an intimate little bar that attracted some of the more interestig characters in Gansbaai.

That evening Andre hobbled into the pub with a slender green snake looped around his neck. All the regulars stood back, because the snake's was turning its head from side to side, looking at the clients with what one could call friendly interest.

“She is a boomslang,” Andre explained. “I found her crossing the road and I picked her up to save her fromthe traffic. Don't worry, she's not dangerous!"

The regulars looked unconvinced and sceptical and kept their distance with their drinks between themselves and the reptile.

"You don't believe me?" asked Andre, taking Ms Snake behind the ears and sticking her head into his mouth. Of course, the boomslang's poison fangs are set at the back of the mouth and are deisgned to bit and kill the small birds that mostly form its diet, but still. No volunteers to try the trick for themselves either.

Some weeks later Ander came to the same pub, this time carrying a puffadder. We all know and fear these ugly creatures for their prominent fangs and lightning-fast strikes, but a German tourist who came a bit too close, got a scratch on the nose and had to be rushed to the doctor "just in case".

Luckily neither snake nor German suffered lasting damage, although Andre was barred from the pub for a while...

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