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Old 01-16-2017, 05:27 AM
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The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa


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While snakes are not often encountered it may be of some interest for the visitor to be able to identify the most deadly seven of the 171 different species of snakes found in South Africa. It is a fascinating study. The very best defense when any snake is encountered is to freeze into a totally immovable statue until the snake moves away.

The Black Mamba (Dendoaspis polylepis)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-7snakes_black-mamba.jpg
Black Mamba’s are the largest venomous snakes in Africa, with adults reaching average length of 8 feet (2.5m) but quite few have have been measured between 12-14 ft. Oddly, the black mamba is not black at all, but brown/olive in colour. The name comes from the inky black mouth they show when threatened. It can reach speeds of up to 12 mph (20km/hr) when attacking, which means you probably couldn't outrun it. The black mamba can strike up to 12 times in quick succession – delivering enough neuro and cardio-toxic venom to kill over a dozen men within an hour. The toxin starts to take effect in only a few minutes and can cause paralysis, vomiting and loss of consciousness. They have been known to take down lions and other large predators when defending their territory. What does all this add up to: an extremely aggressive snake when cornered, that's probably faster than you and with only one strike can kill you in 30 minutes.

The Puff Adder (Bitis arietans)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-7snakes_puff-adder.jpg
This snake kills the most humans in Africa, and is thus known to be the continent’s deadliest. Adders only reach around 1 metre in length but are extremely wide snakes. Colour patterns vary according to habitat, which is extensive. The puff adder has large fangs and releases a cytotoxic venom which attacks the body cells or tissues causing major inflammation and extreme pain. If untreated, death can result within 25 hours.

The Boomslang (Tree snake) (Dispholidus typus)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-boomslang_jfxeaqbh63vorhnrwcs4oomcjqoxpy7q62c4u66siw3t6qwph3oq_757x567.jpg
Found only in Sub-Saharan Africa, this snake derives its name from its habitat – boomslang means “tree snake” in Afrikaans. A shy but lethal predator, this snake’s weapon is its venom, which is haemotoxic, meaning that it affects the body’s natural blood clotting mechanism resulting in the bleeding of the internal organs. What complicates matters is that the venom is often slow acting which makes victims underestimate the seriousness of the bite. Symptoms can take up to 24hrs to show, with the gruesome end of a victim bleeding to death from every orifice.

The Cape Cobra (Naja nivea)
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The Cape Cobra is endemic to Southern Africa and is notoriously irritable and aggressive. When disturbed the cobra famously raises its forebody off the ground, spreads a wide hood and hisses loudly. While on the defensive, it strikes without hesitation with its neurotoxic venom. If the threat remains motionless, the snake will quickly attempt to escape, but at any sign of movement will adopt its defensive posture again. Death from a bite can result in as little as 60 minutes.

The Gaboon Viper (bitis gabonica)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-gaboon-viper1_jfxeaqbh63vorhnrwcs4oomcjqoxpy7q62c4u66siw3t6qwph3oq_757x567.jpg
Found in the rainforests and savannas of sub-Saharan Africa, this snake makes the list for having the longest fangs (up to 2 inches) and the highest venom yield of any venomous snake. This one of the more heavy snakes, weighing up to 10kg. It is the ultimate ambush snake as it is so well camouflaged, blending in easily with leaf cover and surrounding vegetation. It strikes its prey by standing still, and attacks by surprise. A bite can cause blistering, convulsions, shock and internal bleeding.

The Mozambican Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-mozambique-spitting-cobra1_jfxeaqbh63vorhnrwcs4oomcjqoxpy7q62c4u66siw3t6qwph3oq_757x567.jpg
This is definitely one of Africa’s most feared snakes after the black mamba. When needed, it can elevate as much as two thirds of its total body length, and has been known to simulate death to avoid further attack. As the name suggests, the snake “spits” its neurotoxic venom up to 3 metres (10 feet) away with pinpoint accuracy. If it manages to hit you in the eye permanent blindness can occur.

The Green Mamba (Dendroaspis angusticeps)
The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-7snakes_green-mamba.jpg
A large, tree-dwelling, highly venomous snake. This snake mostly inhabits the coastal regions of southern East Africa. Adult females average approximately 2.0 metres (6.6 ft) in length, and males are slightly smaller. Eastern green mambas prey on birds, eggs, bats, and rodents such as mice, rats, and gerbils. They are shy and elusive snakes which are rarely seen, making them somewhat unusual among mambas. This elusiveness is usually attributed to the species' green colouration which blends with its environment, and its arboreal lifestyle. The venom consists of both neurotoxins and cardiotoxins. Symptoms of envenomation by this species include swelling of the bite site, dizziness and nausea, accompanied by difficulty breathing and swallowing, irregular heartbeat and convulsions progressing to respiratory paralysis. Bites that produce severe envenomation can be rapidly fatal.

Here is a copy of a snippet of one encounter in Mozambique during a hunt:


"The shot surely was above the heart due to the tall grass preventing a proper, lower aim but I was not overly concerned as there is a lot of active lung there and the solid should have cut an artery, I knew, remembering where I had aimed and the body angle the bull presented at the moment the bullet hit him. The way he got to his feet showed a broken left shoulder too. Had Ricardo not put some adrenaline and life into its brain with that accurate machete throw he would shortly have expired right there where he fell.

I decided to sit for ten minutes to give him a chance to die without further disturbance. After five minutes Ricardo desperately wanted to follow up and I relented - and almost immediately regretted it because as we moved through the tall, dense grass we heard him getting up and moving, not more than about 20 yards ahead. A huge blotch of blood on the flattened grass showed where he had fallen; good, red arterial blood. Now I knew he was done in as we quietly tracked him.

Then Ricardo, about three yards ahead of me executed a most impressive, arcing high jump to his right - the sheer agility of which shouted out only one thing: "SNAKE!!". I saw it - at least a ten to eleven feet long black mamba, about just under two inches thick and it was not fleeing: the sure indication of a female close to her den and protecting it. The head was not up but somewhere down in the grass so I knew she was not in attack mode - but neither was she going anywhere despite our two yard closeness to her. Had Ricardo not jumped he would have stepped right over her, soliciting a strike.

This one was not as dark as they normally are, but had a dull grey colour with lighter grey blotches on the skin - exactly like the hundreds of 1.5 to 2 inches thick false marula tree branches that lay partly hidden in the grass and over which we stepped every day everywhere. Ricardo, now full of adrenaline himself wanted me to shoot the mamba but we had a still slightly alive waterbuck bull somewhere ahead of us to attend to so we retreated some distance away from the snake and took up the blooded spoor of my bull."
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The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-black-mamba.jpg  
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Last edited by MusgraveMan; 01-18-2017 at 02:46 AM.
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Old 01-16-2017, 06:07 AM
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I have thought about Africa for most of my life as a "someday" thing.

Talked me right out of it. Yup. Scratched that one off the bucket list muey pronto. Nope. Don't even try talking me into cause I ain't going.

Cheezywan

Edit: Nope. I don't care if you are paying all expenses. I still ain't gonna go.
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Last edited by Cheezywan; 01-16-2017 at 08:05 AM. Reason: Needed to add: Nope. I don't care if you are paying all expenses. I still ain't gonna go.
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Old 01-16-2017, 07:29 AM
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I'm afraid of snakes. Grew up around snakes, they still send a chill.The prairie rattlers which is the only venomous snake here is reclusive and non-agressive unless a person is trying to catch or kill it.
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Old 01-16-2017, 08:19 AM
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Cheezywan and Monty, just read this again:

"....snakes are not often encountered..."

I have needed to kill a rattlesnake almost every third day in Colorado preparing properties each time over about three months for the upcoming hunting seasons. These were only around my working areas and where my trailer stood. Out in the hunting areas and on the adjoining public land there were many, many more. Out there I am the intruder in their work areas so I just said: "Scuse moi" and went another way.

I have never seen so many snakes ever, as in Colorado. The owner of the adjoining property on average killed 8 every week around his homestead.

Rather look at this :

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-kruger-guide.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-africa-sunsets.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-kruger-10-smileleopardwhichway-ken-saunders-aug2013.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-1-three-gemsbok.jpeg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-1-nyala-bull.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-baobab-treeadansonia-digitata.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-cape-dutch-style-wine-farm-franschhoek-western-cape-south-africa-a9pkpr.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-cape-winter-scene-cape-dutch-style-famhouse-vineyard-ceres-western-a9pkmw.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-cape-winelands.jpg

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-zorgvliet-wine-estate-home2.jpg
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Old 01-16-2017, 08:56 AM
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[QUOTE=MusgraveMan;1472682]"....snakes are not often encountered..."

Please feel free to say that again MM.

I am enjoying your thread very much. Excellent photography and descriptions and stuff. Thank you very much for posting it.

Just to be clear here, I'm "chicken" around snakes. Especially when I'm not carrying my blaster.
The wine, cheese, and crackers sure is inviting. Mighty neighborly of you to offer. May I have some to go?

"freeze into a totally immovable statue until the snake moves away" my a$$! Nice thread by the way.

Cheezywan

Edit: Nope. I ain't going. Can't make me.
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Last edited by Cheezywan; 01-16-2017 at 08:59 AM. Reason: Needed to add: Nope. I ain't going. Can't make me.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:25 AM
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Except for the Coral Snake which is seldom seen, our poisonous snakes are very easily distinguished. All three have have a very triangular head with very sharp corners. Most all of our snakes have triangular shaped heads, but the cotton mouth, rattler and copperhead have those very distinct corners and edges to the head, a very chiseled appearance. Once familiar with this one can distinguish the poisonous snakes at a glance and from a fair ways off.

I would worry about distinguishing poisonous from non-poisonous in any other part of the world. I think we have it easy in the US.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:51 AM
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The bull-snake in Colorado (there are many of them because they eat the many rattlesnakes) is one of those that worried me initially just because of its looks. Soon I learned about the head shape.

There was another one that worried me, kept on being around a solar pump and tank I attended to almost daily. Turned out to be a black-necked garter snake, so I simply ignored him and the resident bull snake.

Pity there is no dedicated plan view of the mamba family head - it distinctly resembles a coffin in shape.
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Old 01-16-2017, 09:56 AM
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The cheesy one says: I am enjoying your thread very much. Excellent photography and descriptions and stuff. Thank you very much for posting it".

Then he also says: "Nope. I ain't going. Can't make me."

Now what good is that? One must live it at least once.
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:18 AM
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Doing so the best way I know MM. Thus far, avoiding venomous snakes seems to be working good. I recomend the same to you.

Cheezywan

Edit: Nice thread.
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Last edited by Cheezywan; 01-16-2017 at 10:22 AM. Reason: Because I am enjoying the thread
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:28 AM
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Bullsnakes are very common here too. After the initial excitement of spotting them they always get a pass from me. There have been lots of them killed by mistake since they look somewhat like a rattler.
My dad welcomed them to his garden plots that was over an acre. One time he killed a bullsnake that was too close to my oldest son which was a toddler at the time. Later he remarked it was a mistake since birds and rodents pretty much ruined the garden that year.

Agree with Cheesy, I enjoy your posts MM. The stories and photos are top notch!
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Old 01-16-2017, 10:28 AM
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Even on the water the poisonous snake stands out. Ever seen a rattlesnake swim. He sits up on top of the water like a balloon, riding very high. The cotton mouth will swim not so high, but more so than the more aquatic water snake. And the cotton mouth head is held high. The usually Natrix water snakes swim deeply or under water mostly. For some reason the poisonous snakes appear to be much more alert, more of a presence and project more energy than the non-poisonous ones. Maybe it is just because I know they can be dangerous. But, maybe they know it, too.
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Old 01-16-2017, 11:48 AM
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Calico, in the year I spent around and west and north west of Fort Lauderdale and up to Cape Canaveral camping and kayaking as often and as far as I could, I never spotted a single snake. LOTS of alligators. I bet I was more inclined to see alligators than snakes because crocodiles make me very wary.
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Old 01-17-2017, 06:42 AM
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[insert the "Nope, Nope, Nope" gif here.
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Old 01-17-2017, 06:21 PM
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Yuk! Hate em all.
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Old 01-17-2017, 06:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MusgraveMan View Post
Calico, in the year I spent around and west and north west of Fort Lauderdale and up to Cape Canaveral camping and kayaking as often and as far as I could, I never spotted a single snake. LOTS of alligators. I bet I was more inclined to see alligators than snakes because crocodiles make me very wary.
Depends upon where you went, of course. If you were around levees and islands and structure they were probably around. Common water snakes (mostly the Natrix sp.) are ubiquitous. Just seldom see them and some get pretty big. The first time you scare up a 5 footer while wading through the spikerush there is a tendency to pollute the water. I will agree that you can ride canals for miles and miles in south Florida and seldom see a snake of any kind. Wonder how the native snake population is doing since the advent of the python? I was long gone before that one got there.

Funny thing, around here they are all over the place on the water, sunning themselves on limbs and logs and on the banks, both poisonous and non-poisonous, in the daylight. When the sun goes down you wonder where they all came from.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 1Calicocat View Post
Depends upon where you went, of course. If you were around levees and islands and structure they were probably around. Common water snakes (mostly the Natrix sp.) are ubiquitous. Just seldom see them and some get pretty big. The first time you scare up a 5 footer while wading through the spikerush there is a tendency to pollute the water. I will agree that you can ride canals for miles and miles in south Florida and seldom see a snake of any kind. Wonder how the native snake population is doing since the advent of the python? I was long gone before that one got there.

Funny thing, around here they are all over the place on the water, sunning themselves on limbs and logs and on the banks, both poisonous and non-poisonous, in the daylight. When the sun goes down you wonder where they all came from.
Most of my kayaking was out north west of Fort Lauderdale and most of my camping out west. Wondered a great deal about those hundreds of docile alligators I met up with each time I went hiking or kayaking, and finally realised it was because they are all satiated on fish. Geez, there is a lot of fish in those swamps.

My mind and whole system was so intent on seeing alligators I probably brushed on snakes without seeing him. Snakes do not scare me but crocodiles do.
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Old 01-17-2017, 09:56 PM
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Red face Snakes do not scare me, crocodiles do.

We had to cover about 80 yards of dark, bum deep water ahead to get to a place where we could scale the river bank to get to the higher ground where I shot the waterbuck. Here I am scanning for the telltale odd pieces of dried buffalo dung floating on the water - crocodile snouts and eye brows - before proceeding. You can not see it but I was a little wary there as just the previous morning there was an 8 foot one on the sandbank from where the photo was taken. The river was visibly emptying on a weekly basis and they make their winter hibernation dens in hollows between the roots of two trees. About the time of the photo they want to have some meat stocked in with them.

Visiting hunters have little idea of the energy and risks of pre-season preparation of hunting camps. Getting meat is the biggest challenge as the bush is virtually impenetrable due to the tropical rains and growth and mud; because of the lots of water all over game is ramdomly spread out and hunting is scouting for sign, fresh tracks and then following a particular animal's tracks until you hopefully see it and many times there is not a clear shot; crossing rivers to get to the wilderness camp sites to repair and prepare;millions of mosquitoes and tsetse flies due to the water all over, and all the time working through the dense vegetation hiding the risk of stumbling into a stupid buffalo cow or meeting a hippo face to face in one of the dark tunnels in and out of the river beds. By the time the hunters arrive in July-August it is much more open with 100 to 200 yard views and the known watering holes can be watched and your quarry followed and shot some distance away. We do not shoot at the drinking places.

The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-1464062149859.jpg
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The seven most dangerous snakes in South Africa-1462866312363.jpg  
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:28 AM
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It seems you have plenty of risk vs reward.

Aside from the animal/snake issues, the unstable political/ Warlord thing, you have annoying/dangerous insects & thorns as a bonus. I guess I've been lucky & spoiled, never snake bit. Closest I came to a poisonous bite was a scorpion on the underside of a rock I picked up. With medical care so far away, do you carry any snake anti venom? Is cutting off the bitten finger/limb an old wives tale?
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Old 01-18-2017, 08:49 AM
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I don't particularly care for snakes either. I have spent a lot of time in south-east Asia and some of those swamps/jungles have so many different kinds of poisonous snakes that it is like being in a horror show.

Coupled with the lushness of the vegetation, you can almost step on a 18 foot king cobra before you even realize it is there. Kraits and so forth are even harder to spot.

Snakes have no compassion and when it comes to snakes I have no compassion. Better to kill a deadly snake on sight than have regrets for the rest of you life because some kid died from its bite. JMO

BTW As a teenager I was bit by a non-poisonous snake. Still have the scars.

As for crocs and gators, I'm sure they add a lot of excitement to fishing from the bank!


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Old 01-18-2017, 09:04 AM
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Close encounters.

Snapping turtles move a lot faster than you might think when chased by one. Also chased by: dogs, friendly Mr Otter, Bees/wasps/hornets, Bulls, cotton mouths, dive bombed by crows & swallows, bitten trying to save a chipmunk from a house cat. The chipmunk hurt more than expected, OWIE.
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