This charming 12-year-old will calm your fear of snakes


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At just 12 years of age, Arne Hobbs is a registered snake catcher – one of the youngest in South Africa. Driven by an insatiable curiosity, he began collecting reptiles when he was two years old and has devoured books on them ever since he learnt to read. At the age of nine, Hobbs completed his first course in snake handling and has received a number of certifications in the following years.

His immense knowledge, preternatural calm, and ability to control snakes has made Hobbs somewhat of a hero. When Potchefstroom locals spot a snake in their yard, they call the young snake-charmer. Hobbs arrives armed with his protective gaitors, snake tongs and a secure bucket. But his greatest defence is his confidence. “It’s not to say that I’m not scared; I’m just not listening to fear,” Hobbs says.

In fact, the slippery creatures have more reason to worry about people. Managing the balance between human and snake territories is a concern for Hobbs. “So many snakes are being killed and that’s affecting the ecosystem which we depend on,” he explains. To conserve the natural order he not only assists with removals, but also spreads awareness through public talks and a Facebook page. Hobbs sums up his goal succinctly: “If you can educate yourself about snakes, you won’t fear them.” He owns more than 20 snakes and dreams of one day opening a snake park, where his love for these reptiles and the knowledge he has built can be extended to more people in the country.