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Unread postPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2006 10:22 am 
Having a bush house in "snake heaven", I had the privilege to encounter another snake. Luckily this was a small and harmless specimen. :wink:

Initially we thought it was a sort of worm (and weren't far off in our presumption). It was about 10cm in length, thin and had a black polished appearance. It was moving slowly in a straight line - thus our belief that it was a worm. But, when we touched it, it immediately sped away in the typical side-to-side snake movement.
Later, with the help of my wonderful snake book, “A complete guide to the snakes of Southern Africa, Johan Marais", we identified this snake as the Incognito Worm Snake.
Unfortunately we did not get a photo of it. Here is a photo I got with the help of Google, but it is not of the specimen we encountered (it is a worm snake found in the USA). The snake we saw had a more blunt head.

Image

Some interesting facts about this snake, taken from my snake book:
The worm snake is also known as the thread snake.
They are burrowers that feed on termites, ants and fleas.
The Incognito Worm Snake is mostly found beneath stones, logs, or in termite mounds. However, you may find them on the ground surface after heavy rains.
Worm snakes have cylindrical bodies with a blunt head and short tail.
“Worm snakes have no teeth in the upper jaw and have only one lung and one oviduct (the tube that carries eggs from the ovary).
They have reduced eyes that may be visible as dark spots beneath the skin; however they are blind.
Their eggs are attached, resembling sausages {And IMHO massive, if you compare it to the adult snake}
Other Worms Snakes that can be found in Kruger are: Long-tailed Worm Snake (pinkish colour), Peter's Worm Snake (reddish brown to black, average size 20m), Distant's Worm Snake (uniform grey-black in colour) - and then Jumbo's Worm Snake :lol: (AKA Incognito Worm Snake - uniform black in colour)


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Unread postPosted: Thu May 04, 2006 7:56 am 
Yesterday was a record day for me ……but I really hope that this record will never get broken – I had 3 snake encounters in one day. :big_eyes:

Zebra and me went to Marloth for the day. When we got there this young Vine Snake was waiting for us.
(BTW, why is his body so full of bumps – is it always like that or did he eat something? :? )

Image

I tried to persuade it to rather get into a tree – was scared we will step on him. This is supposed to be a shy snake, but like I have said previously, none of my Marloth snakes read the book. First I hit the ground with a broom close to him, and even thought there was more than enough get-away space, he did not budge. Then I lightly touched him with the soft bristles of the broom and he just got angry – lifted himself up like this and flickered his red tongue.

Image

Eventually I just left him. Only then he slowly made his way to a tree.

Later the day I went to have a look at our waterhole. While standing at the edge, I saw a movement out of the corner of my eye. There was a BIG snake on his way, at full speed, straight at me. :shock: I responded with a few back flips, midair splits, and some other movement that I don’t think I will ever be able to redo again. My subtle screams got Zebra to run out. She was just in time to see a piece of him after he turned around and went back to where he came from. Unfortunately I was not able to ID him while I was busy with my acrobatic routine. :roll: I was absolute shivers and Zebra found that quite amusing, but she got her chance later… :twisted:

The afternoon Zebra went out at the front door onto the veranda. I just heard the scream “HEEEEEELP, big snake”. There a Mozambican Spitting Cobra was busy climbing the stairs to get onto the veranda. It wisely desised to retreat (at least one that read the book) and went through our carport to the back of the house.

Most of my photos I took of him came out like this - shivers :wink: .

Image

But miraculously I got this one while he was in the carport.

Image

At the back of the house he went straight to our outside basin, climbed the brick wall and disappeared into a crack behind the basin. I got the feeling he often uses this spot and could not leave him there – we frequently use this basin. I had to call the “snake-catch man” again and had to pay R50 out of my “snake-catch” budget again.


More info on the Vine Snake ( A complete guide to the snakes of Southern Africa, Johan Marais)

*Average size: 1.2m (max 1.47m)
*It is back-fanged
*They are mostly tree-living and are superbly camouflaged as a branch or twig
*It moves gracefully and swiftly when disturbed. It may remain in the same position for several days if not disturbed
*Thought to be timid and retiring, it will inflate its neck to display the bright skin between the scales when threatened. Lunging strikes usually follow this, while the bright tongue flickers in a wavy motion.
* Males engage in combat, intertwining their bodies while attempting to push one another’s heads down.
*The common name “Bird Sake” appears to be inappropriate, as birds do not make up the bulk of this snake’s diet, probably because they are not easy to capture.
*This snake usually strikes from above and often swallows its prey with the anterior part of its body hanging downwards
*Its venom is a dangerous haemotoxic and very similar to the venom of the Boomslang. Bites are rare, which is fortunate because at present there is no antivenom.


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 8:53 am 
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Hi Jumbo
I your earlier post you mentioned that for Vine Snakes there is no antivenom. I have also read this and people say it therefore makes the Vine Snake the deadliest snake in SA.
Maybe Pilane can help us, but why is there no antivenom for this snake ?


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Unread postPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 9:05 am 
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It is very dangerous as boomslang antivenom does not help for this bite. But its is very shy and luckily back-fanged meaning that its bites don't often inject venom as well. The black mamba is still very much the most dangerous snake cause even with anti-venom if you don't get medical support soon with 30-45mins its good night nurse china for you. Puffadder bites are the most common and does serious tissue damage even with anti-venom or not. The other snakes also injects huge quantity of venom. A human's body generally start breaking venom down after a while, thus if u get hit by a bird snake (vine or twig snake otherwise known) you can get thru it with medical help.


Last edited by wildtuinman on Fri May 05, 2006 10:50 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Unread postPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 3:40 pm 
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the reason why there is no anti-venom for vine snake is quite simple.... there is no recorded bite except for those that are "snake handlers" ... i think there are 11 bites on record .. 2 of which were fatal ... so there is no real market for anti-venom .. therfore all the years of research costs and trials etc etc. are not warranted. ±90% of SA's snake bites are from cytotoxic snakes.

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Unread postPosted: Mon May 08, 2006 7:56 am 
I received a PM from Pilane that explained some of the things I saw and experienced with my latest snake encounters. Thought I will quote it here for those who are interested. {Thanks AGAIN Pilane – I, for one, truly appreciate it that you take the time to share your fast knowledge :thumbs_up: }

Pilane wrote:
As far as the crinkle cut vine snake is concerned. No, they don't eat ants/ termites (whish they did- would make feeding them a pleasure). What happens is that they would raid a nest of birds or rats for example and eat all the young. All this food gets queued up to get to the stomach and then you get this rippling effect. (This looks like the case here)
This also evident when another snake was eaten as it gets forced to the stomach by the muscles and once again the ripple effect. (Muscle structure in snakes is another interesting subject)
When any snake has a full tummy they are reluctant to move and would rather stand its ground like in this case. (Who runs around after a nice meal in any case?) If you upset it enough it will regurgitate the stomach contents to make an easy escape.

Then the charging snakes... There are only a few snakes that will really 'charge' you. Vine snakes and M'fezi's do not fall in this category. BUT YOU GET EXCEPTIONS!! Ask me I know.... Like you said, snakes can't/ don't/ won't read (Goes for lions as well) :D
They create the impression that they 'charge' you but what it is actually doing is that they only keeping you in its sight of view and best striking position. (Some people do differ on this though)



christo wrote:
The name of the repellent is "snake repel", manufactured by a company called repel in Dbn. It costs R64.95 for a 500ml trigger bottle. (But I am sure it can be found cheaper)


Christo, we eventually got hold of this repellent – same price, but I suppose desperate times calls for desperate measures. :roll: Thank goodness we did not see a snake this weekend and thus cannot give comment on whether it works or not. However, it did deter a baboon spider from going onto the veranda…. Made a u-turn at the spot where I sprayed the repellent.
Freda advised me that in i.s.o. spraying the repellent around the house as per the instructions, I should rather spray it on myself like I do with Tabard. :imsmilin:


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Unread postPosted: Tue May 09, 2006 7:46 pm 
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Your son is 100% correct Snoobab. You can drink snake venom- provided that you do not have any bad teeth and or ulcers in your mouth and stomach. I think someone or myself posted this somewhere before, but to keep it simple I'll explain it as follows;
Snake venom consists of protiens which will be broken down by the gastric acids and absorbed stomach lining. should you drink it- no harm. Remember venom is only modified saliva.
When it gets into an open wound it gets absorbed by your lymph system and enters your bloodsteam via the arteries in your neck this is when it gets to work. Result- BIG problems... Your immune system will eventually break down the venom but normally too late.... There are other factors like venom type (cytotoxic, neurotoxic, heamotoxic and myotoxic) and the compositition thereof and type of bite that also plays a role.

BTW it tastes almost like batery acid or maybe I can describe it as a metallic taste. Now please don't try this at home... :naughty:

While we are on the subject and espesially to the youngsters out there. I know keeping snakes are becoming a cool/ fasion or whatever 'thing' but take this simple advice from me.
Snake bite is not a joke and believe me you do not want to be bitten. Doesn't matter by what snake. It is simply just not worth it. I can post some snakebite pic's but I think I'll be banned from this forum for posting matter not suitable for sensitive viewers :twisted:
Rather leave these creatures alone and they will leave you alone. (Jumbo is the only exception here because they like her.. :lol: ) If you mess with them you are going to be bitten sooner or later- It is just a matter of time.... and it is also illegal to catch or keep indigineous snakes without permits. (permit system differs from province to province). (But you can kill them :roll: .... no problem)


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Unread postPosted: Wed May 10, 2006 9:52 pm 
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just like to add to pilane's explanation

mamba venom has a low molecular weight therefore gets transported by the capillaries. non spitting cobra have a higher density and get transported via the lymphatic system the cytotoxic venom has the highest molecluar weight of the venoms. and I would also like to emphasise his warnings on capturing snakes unless you know what you are doing don't try this at home :lol:

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The popular argument for destroying rather than protecting snakes is lack of knowledge, and yet there is no valid excuse for this - Austin James Stevens


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Unread postPosted: Sun May 14, 2006 3:34 pm 
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the only thing i could find on a bottle of "snake repel" is that it is ailicone based repellant

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The popular argument for destroying rather than protecting snakes is lack of knowledge, and yet there is no valid excuse for this - Austin James Stevens


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Unread postPosted: Mon Jan 07, 2008 11:42 am 
I’m posting in this thread…even though its got to do with a Black Mamaba, it did not happen in a SANParks….the quotes were taken out of the Black Mamba thread.
We had our closest ever Black Mamba encounter on 26 December at our house in Marloth. With this encounter I learned quite a few things that I wish to share.

DuQues wrote:
Quote:
The black mamba is so secretive, quick, shy and alert that your chances of getting bitten are almost non-existent.


Jumbo wrote:
….apparently they seldom permit a close approach (within 40m).


First thing I learned (again) is that snakes do not read books and to presume a snake will react in a certain way because of the way its character is described in books, might cost you your life.

My SO was sitting just outside our veranda…this was in the middle of the day. The next moment a black mamba sails past him….was less than a meter away from him. At about 1.2m, it was still a youngster, but certainly not less scary or less venomous.
So much for a shy snake not allowing a close approach….suppose that only applies when you approach it and not the other way around? :roll:

The second thing we learned is that the product “Snake Repel” most definitely works. ….Christo first told us about this product on this Forum….we are forever grateful to you. The Mamba wanted to get onto our veranda, but at the spot where we sprayed the repellent the previous day, it made a u-turn….came back again, and again turned away.

The snake then went into a pile of doormats that was lying on the ground…and it disappeared….if we did not see it going in there we would not have even thought that there is a snake between them. :shock: My third lesson: The doormats was lying there because I was washing floors, if we did not know the snake was between those mats I would have picked them up after the floors were dry…and most probably got bitten. I will never pick up anything lying outside again without first checking what might be in/under it….even if it was just on the ground for a few minutes….a broomstick is now my aid.

What happened next has bearing on my first lesson. Firstly I should say that this snake was not at all cornered….it had the whole of the Marloth bush to retreat to. We thus figured that if we can chase it out of the mats it would rather return to the bush and leave us alone. The SO got onto the veranda and with a long stick shuffled the mats that was lying on the other side….the next moment with, its body raised up and with the speed of light, this snake dashed out of the mats, over the “Snake Repel line” onto the veranda and straight for the SO. :shock: Luckily for my hubby the tiles on the veranda was slippery for the snake and that broke its speed. Among all of this I have to admit that it was quite funny to hear the SO scream like a 4-year old girl. :lol:

With the SO chased away the mamba now climbed on top of the wall surrounding our veranda. I have previously seen how a Moz Cobra “sail” up a brick wall, but this mamba just lifted its body and in one step climbed on top of the wall….then the part that made me go cold….it wanted to use one of the tree stumps supporting our roof to get into the roof!!! :shock: :shock: I can still handle the crime in Marloth, but if we had to have a Mamba in the roof I would put the house up for sale immediately!!
The previous day we used the hosepipe to chase a Moz Cobra back to the bush (worked like a bomb :wink: ) and while the mamba was still between the mats I gave my SO a bucket full of water. As the mamba started climbing the tree stump, and me getting hysterical, the SO threw the bucket of water to the snake. The snake retreated and again disappeared between the mats.

At this point we called the “snake guys”. To make a even longer story shot, after a long struggle to first capture the snake, it was eventually killed :cry: ….this was sad but the snake was acting very aggressively and had no desire to return to the bush…our roof was where it wanted to be.
With a youngster of 1.2m acting like this I just pray that I will never encounter the mama of 4m!!!


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 Post subject: Snake hibernation in South Africa
Unread postPosted: Wed Apr 29, 2009 6:21 am 
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I'm still learning about the snakes of Southern Africa. Nothing seems to be telling me about their hibernation patterns though. I know they must hibernate in the Cape, but around when (yes, 'winter' obviously, but...)? I also assume they don't hibernate in places like Kruger, but am I wrong?

Can anyone explain this to me? Thanks :)


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 Post subject: Re: Snake hibernation in South Africa
Unread postPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 5:40 pm 
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You are partly correct. Some snakes will retreat for the entire winter, but many of the diurnal species that are active during the day will still come out on warm sunny days (like mambas, cobras, sand snakes, etc). Some species will disappear almost completely and hibernate in disused termite mounds and under large rocks that retain a bit of heat.

Your nocturnal species (house snakes, egg-eaters, etc) will most likely hibernate, but even they might come out if there is a series of nice and warm days. We have found snakes active and out hunting in the Northern Cape when it is 10 and 12 degrees celcius, so I guess some snakes can survive really cold temperatures! That said, I seriously doubt if you will find something out and about when it is less than 18 in the KNP.

In Gauteng, most snakes (and lizzards) disappear around April and only become active during September, and mostly only in October. It has a lot to with rainfall as well, and even in mid summer snakes go into hiding if the area is too dry!

It also depends on the species. Puff adders are especially active now (just before real winter sets in) but most of the other species seem to have gone to bed already in the bushveld areas (Ellisras / Lephalale area). But some snakes like pythons are often seen throughout the winter months.

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 Post subject: Re: Snake hibernation in South Africa
Unread postPosted: Fri May 08, 2009 8:25 am 
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Thank you for that great answer :D

I've just come back from Addo and had no real luck with snakes. You're right about the Puff Adders though. Both of my sightings were Puff Adders.


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 Post subject: life span of snakes
Unread postPosted: Thu Oct 08, 2009 12:44 pm 
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Can somebody tell me what's the maximum life span of snakes living in the wild? I've checked my books but couldn't find anything! Is there a way to detect the age of a snake, maybe scales :hmz:

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 Post subject: Re: life span of snakes
Unread postPosted: Mon Oct 12, 2009 8:46 pm 
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Could found some info, but how accurate it is I can't guarantee :wink:

python - up to 30 years
puff adder - up to 13 years
boomslang - up to 8 years

Would be interesting to see what the others say :hmz:


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