The experiment involved alternatively placing a rubber animal (and a leaf as a control object) on the shoulder of a road. The rubber animals were a turtle, a snake, or a spider. One thousand cars were then observed as they drove by and annotated the drivers’ reaction.It was found the 94% of drivers kept driving in their lane, whilst the remaining 6% went out of the driving lane to run over the animals. Interesting, 3.2% of this was the tarantula.
Similar studies have been conducted elsewhere in the world that have shown drivers will deliberately run-over snakes that bask on the road.
We found 45 Flap-neck Chameleon dead on the road over a 40-day period. Flap-neck Chameleon are largely arboreal, but are found on the ground during the breeding season which occurs from March to May. Males will actively seek out females, often crossing roads to their detriment, whilst females seek damp soil to lay their eggs. Due to its size (120-140 mm) and being one of the larger chameleon species, the Flap-neck Chameleon is feared by many tribal people and is the subject of much folklore. This may result in purposeful killing of them on the roads (Bonnet et al. 1998).
Similarly, two snake species also suffered high roadkill numbers with a total of 22 Brown House Snake and 24 Mozambique Spitting Cobra roadkill. Snakes are often resented and misunderstood by people with the attitude of ‘kill first’, ‘identify later’. Consequently, this may result in the deliberate killing on roads. Both the Mozambique Spitting Cobra and the Brown House Snake are nocturnal species with the former much feared due to its highly venomous bite. If snakes are deliberately killed on roads, then it is easy to understand why the Mozambique Spitting Cobra was targeted. However, this does not explain why the Brown House Snake may be deliberately targeted above the 22 other snake species detected as roadkill. One possible suggestion may be due to the similarity in appearance of the Brown House Snake to the juvenile Mozambique Spitting Cobra which are both brown in colour and may easily be mistaken for one another at night. Alternatively, it may mean that both the spitting cobra and the house snake are the two most abundant snake species in the area.
Brown House Snake
Mozambique Spitting Cobra