We were camping near Theth in a large meadow near the river, with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains. We camped at this spot in 2018 and it is one of our favourites. Binkie likes it too, as there is grass, small bushes, a few trees to climb,a river to stare at and drink from, and almost no people. Binkie likes to chase (and catch) basically anything that moves. Mostly mice, grasshoppers and small lizards.
He’ll chase the occasional dragonfly or butterfly as well. All harmless creatures, which he slowly tortures to death… All innocent fun, for Binkie that is. We try somewhat to control what and how much he catches, for the creatures sake but also for Binkies safety, because he’ll stick his paws in any hole he can find. Try explaining to a cat that some things do bite back… And the further we travel, the less harmless some creatures become. We had already seen two snakes in Montenegro and a scorpion. One of the snakes we identified was a poisonous viper.
Anyway, I was taking a walk with Binkie around the field, which he really likes to do. He had already made another small lizard loose it’s tale and I had stopped him from catching another one. We were on our way back to the van, when he suddenly jumped in a small bush before I could stop him. I wanted to pick him up to save the next lizard, but he was actually quite startled and even bit me! That’s when a I saw a small snake slither away! This one was about 10-15cm long and not much thicker than my little finger but looked like a viper nevertheless. I didn’t know if Binkie had been bitten or not. Those types of vipers are usually very docile and always try to flee. They only attack when really provoked. But if a cat pounces on it that might just be enough provocation…. I didn’t know if Binkie had actually even touched the snake. And of course I am no snake expert, so I could only guess if it really was a poisonous viper or not. At the van we checked Binkie out but couldn’t find any bite-marks, of course it is difficult to see with his fur. Thethi is really of the beaten track, so the nearest vet was about 4 hours away. We decided to let Binkie calm down and keep an eye on him. After all we didn’t even know if he was bitten or not. After 30 minutes or so he seemed fine, except we noticed his left front paw was swollen.
We didn’t have internet access so we called a good friend. According to the information online, if it really was a (very) poisonous snake, Binkie would be in shock by now. He showed no symptoms of shock. So we then called our Dutch vet, always so helpful. She thought it was probably an (allergic) bite reaction or it could be an unrelated inflammation which we just now noticed. She prescribed some medication that we had with us. Binkie clearly wasn’t feeling to happy that day. But the next day his paw was noticeably less swollen and he was perfectly happy again. He used his paw like normal. So most likely it was a bite reaction, but luckily by a not(very) poisonous snake.
We do a check of the camp ground every time we arrive. Not just for snakes, but also for broken glass and other items that can hurt Binkie. But of course we can’t prevent something like this. I’ve felt guilty about it. But on the other hand he really likes to explore new areas. When we still lived in a house with a fenced of (big)garden, he was regularly bored, despite all the effort we made to keep him occupied. In the Netherlands quite a few cats get killed by traffic, shot at, poisoned or killed by a dog. If we kept Binkie in the van all the time he would be very unhappy. So it is a balance of keeping him happy and as safe as possible.
And no, Binkie didn’t learn anything from it. He is still chasing whatever moves.