Saturday, April 10, 2010

How to catch a snake...

Once upon a time in Mulheim, a village not that far from where I live, a teenager bought a poisonous snake, a monocled cobra to be precise. That should be the story, complete with the ending 'and they lived happily ever after'...but no, this story actually continues 'three weeks ago the snake escaped'!

The escape of a poisonous snake has to be taken seriously, especially as it was living in an apartment block and so there were many lives in danger. The whole block was evacuated and the apartment where the teenager and his pet snake lived was gutted with the floor boards being ripped up in an attempt to find the snake, but to no avail.

Eventually the attic apartment was set with traps and sealed, with the fire service coming back each day to check the traps. It took 5 days for the snake to appear, they think it was due to the rise in temperature that made the apartment suddenly a more amenable habitat to the snake.

Can you imagine the high tech kind of trap the German fire service would use to catch a poisonous snake? Afterall this is the country where Bosch and Siemens and BMW are based, so it stands to reason that they must have some whizzy sensor operated trap that would shut and enclose the snake on entry, don't you think?


First of all they strewed the floor with flour (I assume this was before they ripped the boards up) to see if they could track the snake, this didn't work as clearly the snake was hiding.
Then they placed their traps - double sided sticky tape (it all sounds very Blue Peter to me) I kid you not, Germany's fire department taped up the apartment and waited for the snake to emerge and wriggle across/along the sticky surface.

It worked though, much as I may mock, they were successful as the Bild shows, although I can't see the response 'double sided sticky tape' being acceptable to the exam question 'how would you catch a poisonous snake?'

It's going to cost the 19 year old (ex)owner of the snake 100,ooo euro in costs apparently, while it's not illegal to own such a snake, the fire service costs have to be covered!

And my last thought on the matter? I'm wondering whether the snake was female...if so, what if it laid some eggs (typically 25-45 in a batch) the young are independant as soon as they are born. I think I'll keep away from the Mulheim area for a while!

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