For many people, snakes & reptiles conjure up images
of scary, scaly beasts, with forked tongues, low slung bodies, cold
blood, low intelligence and bad attitudes; ready & willing to
kill anyone within striking distance. Many people are afraid of snakes,
even people with a well-developed awareness of the environment and the
But what is it really like to
enter the silent, secret world of snakes?
Herpetologists like Johan Marais who have entered their
secretive world, marvel as the snakes slither, silently, alone, into the
adventures of their own lives. Why? What do they know about snakes &
reptiles that is so fascinating, captivating & interesting that they
pick their way through swamps, deserts and forests, to learn about these
Perhaps the answers lie in the
Snakes are what they are and do what they do for the
sake of survival. Herpetologists like Johan have long ago stopped
judging these fascinating reptiles on the basis of folklore and
ignorance. In fact, they are appalled at the lack of knowledge about
snakes and other reptiles as this often leads to the destruction of
these innocent creatures.
Snakes & other reptiles respond in their own ways, and the more Johan & his fellow herpetologists observe how
they behave, the more they understand their own lives and the worth
of all living things. Snakes & other reptiles have survived not by
trying to restructure nature, but by being part of nature and taking
only what they need.
Herpetologists appreciate reptiles because they look
at them with the compassionate eyes of objective sensitivity to the
relationship of all living things.
They care for snakes for the simple reason they are
snakes, and their behaviour and beauty challenges them - they invite
mankind to look beyond our narrow lives in order to understand their
Just as the time of snakes encompasses the time of
animals on earth, their fascination with snakes encompasses their
experiences and search for knowledge.
There are many lessons to be learned from snakes.
They remind us to be patient, to strike in defence only when all
else fails, and that while love remains incomprehensible, life is
Herpetologists feel a profound and moral responsibility
of not only understanding our reptilian friends, but also of
educating others about their ways. Johan has written several books
& publications to share his knowledge and inspire us to
appreciate the natural beauty & ways of snakes & other reptiles.
Discovering a snake in its own unique environment sends
a surge of excitement through Johan, and he feels honoured, for nature
has allowed him to become a private witness to some very special secret
We trust that an insight into the world of snakes &
other reptiles will replace your fear of snakes with respect. We think that most
people, once equipped with a little knowledge and understanding of these
beautiful, interesting and inoffensive animals, will find that there is
nothing left to fear.