Western expatriate returning to his villa in Bausher Heights
after parking his car was startled by the slithering presence
of what appeared like a snake
or was it a large worm
that skittered into a flowerbed nearby?
days later, his wife stumbled upon the same shiny-scaled
creature and, fearful of snakes, adopted for a while the
practice of nosily stomping her feet every time she left
the house in a bid to scare away the reptile.
months have since gone by with no trace of what the couple
probably saw was a Blind Snake, a very small reptile that
burrows in soft soil and compost, seeking ants and termites.
is said to come up to the surface only at night, but is
found in cultivation and spreads in flowerpots.
Carpet vipers hide by day under objects, garden
litter and rodent burrows
The harmless Blind Snake is a gardener's friend
The Blind Snake is harmless, and is, in fact,
a gardener's friend as it aerates soil and eats pests.
Other than the Blind Snake, many hair-raising
stories are told about the Racer Snake, which are seen in
wadis, and most notably, the pools of the Snake Gorge.
Although they look intimidating with their
long slim bodies, olive-grey or brown colour and quick movements,
they are more interested in catching toads and fish at the
edge of the water than attacking humans.
According to the Natural History Museum,
only a few snakes in Oman are dangerous to man. Many snakes
commonly seen are not dangerous to people. In fact, they
try to avoid contact with people.
There are 22 species of snakes in the country,
and the only dangerous ones are the cobra, the vipers and
the sea snakes.No chances should be taken with snakes if
they are venomous.
Puff Adders lie in wait on grassy paths and in trees
The large and bulky Arabian Gulf Sea Snake
Venom, a complex mixture of different chemical
compounds, act upon body tissue, the blood and the nervous system
if injected in sufficient quantity. Venomous snakes in Oman inject
venom through hollow fangs fixed in the front of the mouth (as
those in cobras and sea snakes) and by hollow erectile fangs (vipers).
The one Cobra species in Oman grows to two metres
long and is found near water and trees in the Dhofar mountains.
Its toxins affect the motor nerves and paralyse the muscles and
cause difficulty in breathing and swallowing.
Mole vipers are seen occasionally at night or after
The seven species of vipers in Oman include
the Mole Viper, Puff Adder, two Horned Vipers and three Carpet
Vipers, which may be seen in Dhofar.
Although the effects of the venom on individuals
vary, the toxin from the viper may cause local pain and swelling,
destroy the clotting power of blood, and widespread bleeding
occurs, usually seen in spit, urine and bruising, according
to the book Snakes of the Arabian Gulf and Oman, by Michael
The relatives of cobras, the Sea Snakes, however,
are probably those that people, especially seafarers, encounter
more than any other venomous snakes.
Said Muhammad Abdullah Al Ghafry who works for
Ericsson, narrates once such encounter with a sea snake during
a fishing trip with friends last November.
After dropping anchor near a rocky outcrop behind
the Jalali fort, they uncoiled their fishing lines while waiting
for their big catch.
They were soon surprised to find that their fishing
lines had ensnared a pair of angry, wriggling two-and-a-half-metre-long
Aware that sea snakes can be poisonous, they cut
a fishing line setting loose one snake, but had to kill the other
before it could pose any danger. As a tip, take care and leave
snakes alone. They won't do harm if you avoid them as much as
they avoid you.
More tips are given in Michael Gallagher's book,
such as look and take care where you put your hands and feet,
particularly in wadis, gardens, woodland and near rubbish and
water. Remove litter, creeping plants and rodents from around
your house and seal holes.
Avoid walking outside at night without light, and
so on. Basic First Aid reminds that in case of snakebite, wash
the injury, keep the area still and at a lower lever than the
heart and keep the victim quiet. Also, take the victim immediately
to the hospital.
Adapted from Oman Observer. Nizwa.NET is not responsible for contents.