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LOCAL TIME: 10:25 am | Tuesday, 20 October
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Wildlife To Avoid When Hiking in Hermanus

The Overberg region is one of the most magnificent areas in the world, famed for its whales and lush Fynbos vegetation.

The beauty of the surrounding area makes many of us want to slip on our hiking shoes and head for the hills. However, when hiking in the Overberg and Hermanus area it would be wise to avoid these insects, reptiles, and mammals.

Creepy crawlies…

TickThe Tick: The tick is a small type arachnid that lives on the blood of mammals and birds. These tiny “goggas” carry a number of diseases, the most dangerous being tick bite fever, that can also affect your pets.  They are found worldwide in warmer areas, more common in spring and summer. Once you are done with your hike, check yourself and your pets for them, they love dark nooks and crannies. If you find one, remove it, disinfect the area and upon any signs of a fever go to your nearest doctor immediately.

Sac SpiderSac spider: They are thought to bite more humans than any other spider in the world. This spider hunts at night, but it doesn’t mean you’re safe on a daytime hike. They spin a protective tube to hide themselves in and they pack a nasty toxic bite. The bite is painless and looks similar to a mosquito bite but after a few days, it will become painful and turn into a lesion. If you suspect that you have been bitten, go to your nearest doctor as you will need antibiotics to treat the bite.

Violin SpiderViolin spider: These critters are found all over South Africa and bites are incredibly rare, however, do not ignore the signs if they occur. The bite will swell and become discoloured after which it will blister. Treat the bite immediately with disinfectant and seek medical assistance as it could lead to infection and septicemia. They frequent dark areas under rocks and logs so avoid poking about.

 

Black WidowBlack and brown button spider: Commonly known as a “black widow” and found in dark quiet places. Bites are painful and symptoms will follow shortly. Symptoms include fever, raised blood pressure and muscle pain. If you are bitten during one of your walks, remain calm and notify a fellow hiker. Head to the nearest hospital to be treated with anti-venom. Most patients are well enough to head home after 24-48hrs. The good news is that no deaths have been recorded in the last 50yrs… Phew!

ScorpionThick tailed scorpions: There is only one rule when it comes to scorpions, and that is that if a scorpion has a thick tail and small pinchers it is venomous! Scorpions are mostly found under logs and rocks; no sticking fingers in where they don’t belong. The people most at risk for serious complications tend to be the elderly, small children, people with allergies and respiratory problems. If you are stung seek medical attention immediately, there is an anti-venom available. Apply ice to the wound, take aspirin and bandage the wound.

Top: Puff Adder Bottom left: Boomslang Bottom right: Cape Cobra

Top: Puff Adder
Bottom left: Boomslang
Bottom right: Cape Cobra

Puff adder, Cape cobra and boomslang: They make up the trio of the most dangerous snakes in S.A. If cornered or threatened, snakes tend to lash out, inflicting a venomous bite. Puff adders are thick, lazy snakes that do not tend to move off quickly and their colouring makes for excellent camouflage. The cobra readily defends itself if threatened; they tend to be more aggressive during mating season from September to October. The boomslang is easily recognised by its large eyes and green colouring and frequents trees, thus the name. It is a placid snake, rarely biting passing hikers, most bites recorded are those made by snake handlers. With all three snakes, it is important to remember to remain calm when bitten, immobilise the wound and head to the hospital immediately.

BaboonBaboons: They are some of the most interesting animals we have here in South Africa and definitely in Hermanus. Famous for breaking into local houses and stealing tasty treats, they are still dangerous and people tend to forget this when they come across them. The best is to avoid them, and give them plenty of space if you come across them on a hike. Do not shout at them, bare your teeth, throw things at them or encourage them to take food from you. At the end of the day, baboons are wild animals and should be treated as such.

If you do come across any of the insects, reptiles, and animals mentioned above, your best line of defense is to avoid them.

Emergency contacts:

10177 – Ambulance

+ 27 (0)28 316 2763 – Ambumed Ambulance

+ 27 (0)28 312 3219 – EMS (Provincial) Ambulance Service

+ 27 (0)28 313 0168 – Medi-Clinic

+ 27 (0)28 312 1166 – Hermanus Provincial Hospital

10177 – National Hotline for Mountain Rescue

Find more information about the Fernkloof Nature Reserve here.

Hiking still remains an amazing adventure, experiencing first hand the natural beauty of an area, but this also means respecting the wildlife too.

More info on the town of Hermanus



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