Updated: Dec 4, 2022
As I got out of the bath I felt a sharp burning sting on my little finger. My initial reaction was that I'd picked up a splinter, but why was it stinging so much?
Trailing bath water, I padded off to find my glasses. Sighted again, I spied small black waving arms sticking out from between the wooden slats surrounding the bath. At first, I thought it was a spider but on closer inspection, I realized it was a scorpion. And it was making itself as menacing as possible - lots of action between those slats to make sure I could see those pincers and tail. It was like watching a whirlygig.
My immediate reaction was to suck on the finger and hopefully draw out any poison (turns out this isn't an ideal move). It was still stinging like mad. What got me - the tail or the pincers? (Answer: the tail).
My first step was to find out what type of scorpion had got me. This green living lark does have its drawbacks! I scooped it out from between the slats with a knife and took a good look at it.
Second I consulted Dr Google and was relieved to read that the fatter the tail, the more dangerous the scorpion. This tail was long and skinny.
Just to be sure, I called a friend, now retired from emergency services, and was assured that there are no lethal scorpions in our area.
I applied some essential oil (frankincense, lavender, tea tree), and had anti-histamine ready in case of any allergic reaction. It stung and burned for at least 10 minutes.
Here is the rule of thumb for identifying whether a scorpion is venomous or not.
Highly venomous: thick tails, thin pincers
Mildly venomous: thin tails, thick pincers
Even though it's not particularly pleasant, a scorpion sting where we live shouldn't cause too much trouble.
I bet you're wondering what other nasties we have to deal with.
Most snakes have venom which they use for protection and hunting. Although we are not their choice of snack, some snakes are more aggressive than others. Mostly they would rather get away from us and save their venom for prey. A snake injects its venom through fangs in its mouth.
Charming for us, we have 3 very poisonous snakes on the farm, and being bitten by one of these is potentially lethal.
An adult cobra can grow to around 1.6m long. This beautiful yellow snake is usually found on the ground, and stands up and spreads its hood as a warning. A bite from one of these snakes is life-threatening and needs immediate medical care. Its neurotoxic venom affects the central nervous system and can lead to death due to respiratory failure.
The name means "tree snake," as it lives in shrubs and trees. There are no vines or plants growing against our houses because these would make the perfect habitat for boomslangs. They are green with big eyes.
The boomslang’s venom affects the blood-clotting function of the victim, causing internal and external bleeding.
A puff adder is a fat lazy snake which generally basks itself on the ground during the day. It doesn't get out your way like a cobra would, and is very well camouflaged. Don't be fooled though, it's lightning-fast when you've stood on it. Its venom destroys cells and tissues.
If you're bitten by a spider, keep calm. Try to catch the spider for identification purposes. Wash the area with soap and water and ice immediately. Of course, we have our share of poisonous spiders, the most dangerous of which are the brown and black button spiders, and a bite needs immediate medical attention.