An Emirati family had an unexpected passenger on their return home from a camping trip – after a deadly snake came along for the ride.
Mohammed Al Hammadi was visiting the village of Masafi with his wife, five children and other family members when the venomous viper sneaked into their car unnoticed.
Mr Al Hammadi only spotted the snake on their return from the two-day trip, slithering on the car dashboard before swiftly disappearing from sight.
The family alerted police, who directed their call to environmental management company, Bee'ah.
The company sent out a team to the family's home in Abu Dhabi to try to locate the snake.
“We don’t know when the snake got into the car but we assume that it was hiding in our camping equipment and got out when we arrived home,” said Mr Al Hammadi, 40.
“We arrived home and didn’t notice the snake until the next day, when we decided to go out.
“When my wife and I got into the car we saw the snake on the dashboard before it slithered into the air vent.”
Mr Al Hammadi said officials from Bee'ah had no luck in finding the slippery customer, prompting them to call in Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, who took the car to a garage in a fresh bid to find it.
“The technician removed the seats and the dashboard but couldn’t find it and when the people from Bee'ah arrived we removed the AC filter near the engine and found it dead.
“The snake apparently died due to a large cut in its body.”
Mr Al Hammadi estimated the snake to be about 80cm long.
“I took a photo of it and looked it up in one of the books that I have about snakes and found that it’s called Echis Carinatus Sochureki, which is a saw-scaled viper, a very dangerous venomous viper.”
Mr Al Hammadi said he will be careful to check his luggage when driving back from rural trips in the future.
“We don’t know how to deal with snakes as we live in the city and not in the countryside. I believe that the snake got into our luggage when we packed them, either from the tent or the caravan.
“People should be aware and know how to deal with similar situations as many go camping during winter in the desert or the mountains.”
Mr Al Hammadi said that next time he goes camping he will make sure that the tents are always closed and that he checks all the luggage and camping equipment before packing and loading it into the car.
“It was a stressful experience and we have offered the car for sale in order to forget the incident,” he said.
From the photo Mr Al Hammadi took, Dr Chenjerai Sigauke, medical manager at Ras Al Khaimah Animal Welfare Centre, identified the snake as a saw-scaled viper.
“It is a saw-scaled viper and yes it is a venomous snake,” said Dr Sigauke.
The viper, which is found in Africa, parts of Asia and the Middle East, is responsible for thousands of deaths every year.
The saw-scaled viper is light to dark brown in colour and has a series of crossbars along the spine, which are inverted with light coloured V-shapes. It has a whitish or pinkish belly.
It can grow up to 80cm and prays on rodents, lizards and frogs.
Last year, an unwitting Ras Al Khaimah resident had a close encounter with a deadly saw-scaled viper— after spotting a cat playing with it outside his home. An entrapment team was sent out to safely remove the reptile.