How Sunlight Liquid saved a spitter!

Last week I went to a home in Springfield, to remove a young Mozambique Spitting Cobra out of a drain pipe.

I bent down to look at the trapped snake, with my visor protecting my face, but it didn’t spit at me, even though my head was so close to it. “Strange”, I thought. I pulled the snake out, and my heart sank. It appeared to be dead, until I saw a very feint bit of movement. My anger levels raised! “What did you do to it?” I asked, as calmly as I could. I assumed they had tried hitting it with something, although I couldn’t see any visible injuries. “Nothing, we just poured Jeye’s Fluid on it”.

It is commonly believed that Jeye’s Fluid works well as a snake repellent, but it DOES NOT. It will not keep snakes away from your property. However, if poured directly onto a snake, it will kill it.

On my way home. I phoned my friend, and well-known snake-catcher, Jason Arnold (Universal Reptiles). Thank goodness I called him, because he knew exactly what to do! He instructed to rinse the Jeye’s Fluid off thoroughly, with Sunlight Liquid. Sunlight Liquid?? As in dish-washing liquid?

Needing to act as quickly as possible, I followed Jason’s instructions. I restrained the lifeless snake behind the head. That may sound easy, and it was, but it still requires the same amount of concentration as if it was alive. Dead or alive, one slip and the fangs could penetrate the skin, injecting the venom.

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While I was holding it, I commanded my patient/helpful/tolerant mother to fetch the Sunlight Liquid and ear buds. The snake wasn’t breathing, I couldn’t see the trachea opening. I poured the liquid onto the snake, and started rubbing it all over its body. My mum then rinsed the Sunlight off with water, and we repeated the procedure. I used an ear bud to rub sunlight on top and beneath the cobra’s head. We did it as thoroughly as we could, three times. As we did this, it started showing signs of life.

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Jason then explained that it would take some time for the Sunlight to kick in, but it would be trying to breathe. I opened the mouth, and saw it’s trachea open up once. He said that it will suffocate if I don’t help it breathe, because it didn’t have the strength to open its mouth, and there would still be residue from the Jeye’s Fluid blocking the nose. I held the mouth open with a straw, and the snake was desperately trying to breathe.

At one point, we got a bit desperate, so my mum came up with a clever idea! If any of you have tried those delicious chocolate Corn Flakes, you’ll know it comes with a funny slurpy spoon, where the spoon acts like a straw to suck up the milk. (OK, it is a kiddies cereal, but it tastes good!). So I used that to give the snake CPR, by placing the spoon end in it’s mouth, and the handle end in mine. I did the same with a straw, trying to gently inflate some air into the snake. Not something you do every day, but we were desperate.

The snake started to squirm around, and its strength had picked up dramatically, it was almost pulling out of my hand! So I left it alone. But it would quickly lose that strength, as it was still struggling to breathe. So every 5 minutes, I would hold the head, and keep the mouth open with the straw. As soon as I would open the mouth, the cobras trachea opened up wide, gasping for air, and the strength kicked in again. Every time I did this, it slowly became more lively. I repeated this countless times over the next hour and a half, until finally, I could then see the tongue flicking out, and that’s when we knew it was gonna make it!

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An hour and a half after treating it with Sunlight, it started to move around freely. In fact, it was now desperate to get out of the tub I had it in! My mum and I were so chuffed that our efforts had paid off! Jason too, was happy to hear the news. I opened up his container today, and as you’ll see in the pic below, it was ready to say thank you by hooding up and spitting at me. There’s no payment like a nice thank you!

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It was one of the most remarkable things I have ever seen. A snake brought back from the dead, by something we all use everyday to clean the dishes? Don’t ask me how that works, but it clearly does, what a miracle!

A huge thank you to Jason for his expert advice, we would never have saved it without him. It’s so amazing to see this snake alive and spitting, I can’t wait to release it this week!

Nick Evans
About Nick Evans 4 Articles
Nick Evans, based in Durban, South Africa, runs a programme called 'KwaZulu-Natal Amphibian & Reptile Conservation', a chapter of The Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization. The purpose of the programme is to try and change people's perceptions of these amazing animals, and raise awareness for the conservation of them.

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