19 May 2014 17:25

Hans-Jorg Wiedl, perhaps better known as Snake George, has dedicated over a quarter of a century to protecting reptiles in Cyprus and has no plans to stop now.
Speaking to The Cyprus Daily yesterday, Wiedl said he, and the newly formed and registered Herpetological Society, was hoping to enlist a small number of volunteers in each area to respond to calls for help from people who wanted snakes removed from their homes and gardens.
"I have been doing this for the last 26 years. I really appreciate it when people call so that there is a possibility for the snake to be rescued and not killed but, because I live in Paphos, it would take me at least two hours to get to Nicosia for example," Wiedl said.
Currently receiving around 10 calls for assistance per week, Wiedl said ideally a small number of people in each area could be trained to respond to calls for help and remove the snake without injuring the reptile or themselves.
"I know that there are people who love nature and understand that we have to save snakes."
He hopes to have an emergency number people can call after which the volunteers in the specific area could be alerted to respond.
Wiedl said he had recently provided training to UN pest control workers, teaching them how to identify snakes and catch and remove them safely.
"I am always happy to talk to people about snakes and help them realise that they belong to Cyprus, that they are part of nature and that, as civilised people, we should take care of and protect them," Wiedl said.
The expert added he was saddened only a handful of private schools had invited him to talk to their pupils over the years and he would welcome more private and public organisations doing the same.
Wiedl said May was usually a time for frequent snake sightings as they woke from their hibernation from the end of April onwards and mating season began.
The Austrian-born expert said he did not believe this year's warmer than usual winter and drought had impacted snake population numbers yet. This, he said, was because snakes laid their eggs from the end of June until September and so any changes in their numbers would only be evident later on.
"Snakes are more active at this time of year because it is mating season and, after hibernation, they are hungry and trying to get something to eat."
There was more chance of seeing a snake in May and June than in July and August when the weather was hotter with the reptiles once again becoming more visible in cooler September.
If you would like to contact Wiedl for advice on how to remove a snake from your property, to arrange a talk on the snakes of Cyprus, to join the Herpetological Society or to volunteer as a snake rescuer, call 99987685.


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