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Snake Activities

Snakes have been noticeably active and hunting for food, characteristic of them “fattening” up ahead of the cooler months to follow when they become less active.

Click on the video clip to see a Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus) commencing with ingestion of a captured lizard. When assessing the size of the prey in comparison with the bite size of the snake, it demonstrates the ability of a snake to dislocate its jaw in order to ingest and swallow the larger size prey.

The Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake enjoys living in arid savanna habitats, dominated by Mopane and Acacia veld. The average size of adults is about 1 metre long. It is an oviparous species, meaning the females lay eggs. These snakes are active during the day.

A most interesting fact about the Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake is that it is considered the fastest snake in southern Africa. It has brilliant camouflage and its favourite meal is lizards.

A Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus), had to be removed from a bungalow. Judging from its behaviour and knowing where every hide-away “nook and cranny” existed on the enclosed veranda, this harmless snake had been co-inhabiting this bungalow for some time!

Spotted Bush Snakes are also diurnal, their skin colouration and pattern are rather striking. Spotted Bush Snakes are sometimes mistaken for Boomslangs and Green Mambas because of the colouration. It can also move with deceptive speed and is an exceptional climber. Females lay eggs. Like Sand Snakes they enjoy lizards, chameleons, frogs and geckos.

Chris Mayes drew the short straw to remove a large Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica) from an outside drain at a bungalow. The snake had managed to entangle itself inside the sieve of the drain trap, unable to free itself from the sieve. This was due to the snake having ingested a large veld rat, its girth now too large to enable it to slither between the grooves of the sieve. The Spitting Cobra then worked itself rearwards, regurgitated its meal, and this narrowed its girth sufficiently enough to rid itself of the encumbering noose.

The Mozambique Spitting Cobra is categorized as Very Dangerous in terms of venom toxicity. Although the average length of an adult snake is 1.2 metres it can grow to 1.5 metres long.

The venom is mostly cytotoxic, which means it attacks tissue. A lesser amount of neurotoxic venom may induce a sense of drowsiness if bitten. These cobras are mostly active at night. When threatened they may spread their hood, like other cobras. Dark blotchy markings under its throat/neck area that may form a band help with species identification.

The fangs are physiologically modified to spit venom accurately up to 2 metres. Eyes should be thoroughly rinsed with fresh water.

 

Facts researched on the Internet: Words by John Llewellyn