Introducing Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa, and an Author Interview…

A couple of weeks back I started writing a post a week about books that would have a special interest to South African children. This was in response to a couple of homeschool moms who were looking for great books to read to their kids in the South African context. I always encourage folk to begin by looking at nature inspired books, because kids love nature and their fascinating facts are written in bite sizes, making them easily accessible for young folk to glean. This week we are bringing you the newly released book: Kids’ Snakes of South Africa, by Johan Marais.

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Let’s Meet the Book: Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa

A couple of my kids are crazy about snakes and when they met Johan Marais at a Struik Nature event a while back, it just fed their enthusiasm to learn more. But there has not been a lot of information, specifically geared towards children, up until now. The new Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa is a fantastic resource that we highly recommend for nature loving kids and their parents. I was just intrigued in this book as the kids were, and we spent hours saying, “Did you know…?” As we paged our way through it.

The most striking feature of this book is that it is absolutely packed with fantastic photographs. On every page there is lots of information, presented in a way that even though most reluctant reader would find easy to glean.
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The book begins with an introduction to snakes… their senses, the way they move, what they eat and all sorts of special features. The book then goes on to describe close to forty snakes that we find locally, in double page spreads. The name of the snake is in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Zulu. There is a “dangerous scale” for each snake, varying from harmless to extremely dangerous, there is a location map and a height chart, and don’t forget all the facts, special features and plenty of full colour photographs.

Let’s Meet the Author, Johan Marais

Johan Marais is the leading training provider of snake awareness and venomous snake handling courses in Africa and the largest supplier of quality snake handling equipment on the continent.

Se7en Questions We Asked Johan Marais

  1. Did you always know you would want to work with snakes?
  2. Sort of – caught my first snake at the age of twelve but got little encouragement from my family. Had a to witness a lot of snakes being killed as a kid.

  3. Can you tell us about your favourite snake encounter?
  4. I have been fortunate in that I have travelled to many countries and have had a lot of snake encounters. Catching my first big Black Mamba at a very young age was memorable – a beautiful snake but extremely venomous. It was removed from people’s property in Durban and I had to contend with two guys with loaded shotguns behind me – just in case it escaped.


  5. What does your perfect work day look like?
  6. Most days are really busy, working on more books, doing some snake photography or working on some of the research projects that I am busy with. The perfect day – walking in the field in Namaqualand near Sringbok observing reptiles and photographing them.

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  7. Do you have pet snakes or do you think snakes should be free?
  8. I do not have pet snakes and do not have a problem with people keeping them – as long as they are well cared for.

  9. How would you encourage a young person, who wanted to work with snakes one day?
  10. Buy books, read about them and learn as much as possible. And work hard at school – you need good math marks to get into a decent university program.

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  11. Often people are very frightened of snakes, what can you say to help them overcome their fear?
  12. Most fears are because of misinformation or a lack of knowledge. Read as much as possible about snakes, their behaviour and biology and once you understand them better the irrational part of your fear is something of the past.

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  13. As a snake ambassador, who speaks on behalf of snakes, what is one thing you would like to tell people that would make the world a better place for snakes.
  14. Please do not kill snakes. We have a free App that lists snake removers country wide – go to your cell phone store and download ASI Snakes.

    se7en-13-Sep-18-African SnakeBite Institute

    As well as the free app, The African Snake Bite Institute is a fabulous resource, with masses of information and plenty of informative snake posters that you can download for free, as well as lists of contact numbers for snake emergencies.
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    This book is available in English and Afrikaans, and for our overseas readers I have added an (affiliate) Amazon link in the image below:

    Many thanks to Johan Marais for the interview and Penguin Random House South Africa, Struik Nature. This is not a sponsored post and opinions expressed are entirely our own.

2 Replies to “Introducing Kids’ Snakes of Southern Africa, and an Author Interview…”

  1. This is brilliant! I find children’s books so helpful in learning about things. I like his advice that once one understands more about snakes, we have less to fear… I guess I need to understand a whole lot more!

  2. Oh Debbie, isn’t that the truth… so much understanding!!! It really is so much easier to learn when you can learn in small bites as well. This book is a real gem, and a great snake reference for kids and their associated adults!!! click through to the website… you will love the posters and Download the app, it is fantastic!!!

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