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Posted by Wes von Papinešu on April 23, 2000 at 13:00:41:
SUNDAY TIMES (Rosebank-Johannesburg, S Africa) 19 March 00 Robbers keep clear of scaly 'watchdog' (Ingrid Salgado)
Ounooi the snake is hot property in the small town of Dundee.
The 88cm-long night adder is the newest - and most successful - deterrent to criminals in northern KwaZulu-Natal.
When robbers smashed the window of Richard Nel's cleaning equipment store in January to steal a teapot, plastic basin, CD player and dishwashing liquid, the fed-up owner decided to make his shop as thief-proof as possible.
Enter Ounooi (Afrikaans for "old girl"), who so looks forward to her nights of freedom that she raises herself from slumber at 4pm to pester the Nels to be let out of the tank in which she is confined during the day.
The whole town has been talking about Nel's "little watchdog", which, he says, has become a part of the family.
Outside the shop, a sign in three languages warns of the danger lurking inside.
For all would-be burglars know, Ounooi could be curled up in one of several empty 25-litre containers. Or she could be creeping along the shop's counter. Or she could be lurking behind the door, ready to strike with deadly venom.
Neighbouring shops have been robbed, but Nel's store has remained untouched. Now he and Ounooi's owner, Pieter van der Merwe, want to start a rent-a-python business.