Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Snakes, Snakes and More Snakes

My heart was pounding as we entered the premises of the Uganda Reptile Village, it had taken us months to pluck up the courage to visit and I wasn't sold that we were making the right decision.  As we crossed the small garden towards the snake enclosures we were welcomed by Godfrey an experienced snake handler who would guide us around the facility.  The first enclosure we approached housed four forest cobras and the moment I laid eyes on them, enthralment took over my nervousness.  To my amazement an employee of the reptile village was plastering inside the enclosure resulting in two of the four cobras being raised up, their hoods flattened and watching his every move as he occasionally glanced over his shoulder.  After several minutes he exited the enclosure at which time the cobras focussed their attention on us, albeit through the safety of the glass window.  Watching them stare directly at us was certainly a spectacle to behold.

As we moved around the reptile village with Godfrey, he answered our numerous queries while we admired and learned about the uniqueness of each of the snake.  We came face to face (behind the glass window of course) with many species including:

~ Forest Cobra
~ Olive Sand Snake
~ Large Eyed Snake
~ Green Mamba
~ African Rock
~ Twig/Bird Snake
~ Boomslang
~ Boiga
~ Green Tree Snake
~ Puff Adder
~ Rhinoceros Horned
~ Great Lakes Viper
~ Gaboon Viper

Godfrey also proved to be a great entertainer.  As we were viewing three adult African Rock Pythons and a baby slithering around, he was explaining that the Rock Python lays eggs which the female lays on for the 2 - 3 month incubation period.  Godfrey left our side and we were unsure where he went until we saw the back door of the enclosure open and watched as he picked up a python that had been resting against the door.  It squirmed in his grip and we could see the immense power and strength that it had.  He released it out of his harms way but it was annoyed that it's rest had been interrupted and subsequently struck at us standing at the window.  Godfrey then secured the head of the female with eggs, reached underneath her and got one of the eggs to show us.  The egg was nothing like I thought.  It was an ivory color, unevenly shaped and felt like hard tofu when touched as well as having a strong odour.  After learning all about the pythons reproduction, Godfrey carefully returned the egg to its mother.

The primary vision for the facility is to educate people helping to overcome any fear or misunderstandings of snakes and other reptiles in hopes to contribute to their conservation.  Besides the numerous species of snakes The Uganda Reptile Village is also home to Terrapins, Leopard tortoises, Bell's hingeback tortoise, Nile monitor lizard, Nile crocodile,  Elliot's chameleon and the three horned Jackson's chameleon.

The Uganda Reptile Village is rough and ready however not for a moment did I feel unsafe.  Godfrey was a brilliant guide and was both informative and entertaining.  His confidence and knowledge of the snakes was impressive.  As we left the premises, I was elated that we had decided to visit.  The information we were given during our visit has definitely eased my fear of snakes.  As we drove away, we both agreed that we would return to the Uganda Reptile Village to spend more time with these beautiful animals.

The Uganda Reptile Village is 3km off the Entebbe road just outside of Entebbe town.

Reptiles - Photo Gallery

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