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Snake: Boomslang/Common African Tree-

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Jumbo

Unread post by Jumbo » Wed Nov 22, 2006 12:34 pm

I wrote the following in that chaotic thread of mine…taken from “A complete guide to the snakes of Southern Africa" (Johan Marais)

Jumbo wrote: The colour of the boomslang:
“Most females are light to olive brown with dirty white to brown bellies, whereas males might have the following coloration: (a) green to olive green with or without black interstitial skin, the belly a similar but lighter colour; (b) bright green with black-edged scales, giving the snake a crossbarred appearance; (c) dark brown to black with bright yellow bellow; (d) black above with dark grey belly scales that are black-edged. Brick-red specimens are found in some areas.
There are also intermediates of these colours, and occasionally females have typical male coloration"

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Re: Rare snakebite at Talamati

Unread post by francoisd » Tue Feb 03, 2009 9:09 am

Below the email sent out by Wiggie, the HR on duty at Talamati during BBW

Hello Everyone

For those of you who don't know, Geoff Lockwood was bitten by what he thought was the resident Boomslang at around 07h25 on Sunday morning in Talamati. I was outside my bungalow (no. 2) with him, when he stepped into the grass to take a photo of the Barred Owl chick, and it struck. He knocked it off, and then very calmly organised things around him, before being driven back to Jo'burg by Cynthia. Although it all happened so incredibly quickly, I'll have an image forever embedded in my mind of the snake attached to the front of his shin, just above his ankle.

When Pam and I arrived back in Jo'burg, we visited Geoff at around 19h00 in hospital, who by then had been given the necessary anti-venom serum.
He told us that whilst been driven to Jo'burg, and 3 hours after the bite, he started getting a nasty headache, and 2 hours later couldn't keep anything down. His family had prepped the hospital to expect him, and serum made its way to the hospital. The doctor, who was very experienced with snake bite, couldn't believe that a Boomslang had been on the ground and bitten him above the ankle. Tests were done on his blood, and after it wouldn't coagulate, more tests were done. They pricked his arm, and the blood just flowed and flowed. Proof of the Boomslang venom in his system. He was given the serum and when we saw him, seemed fairly comfortable. He will spend tonight in the hi-care respiratory unit under observation.

From being so isolated in Talamati, I'd like to comment on how quickly a network of help developed.
A big word of thanks to Pam my wife, Steven Whitfield - the section ranger at Tshokwane, the Wendy and Neill Richards, Stan Close and Lesley Pepworth party and Ben de Boer. Apologies if I've missed anyone out, but well done to those who got a very well oiled machine rolling in no time at all.

I'll send out further E-mails updating you on his well being.

Thinking of you Geoff and Cynthia!

All the Best
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Elsa
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Re: Rare snakebite at Talamati

Unread post by Elsa » Tue Feb 03, 2009 10:31 am

My very best wishes to Geoff for a speedy recovery
and well done to all who assisted him. :clap:
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Re: Rare snakebite at Talamati

Unread post by francoisd » Wed Feb 04, 2009 8:31 am

Some more news from Wiggie posted to SABirdNet at 11:59 on Tuesday 3 Feb. I get the digest version so only saw it this morning.

Morning Everyone

Tuesday's news on Geoff.

Professor Graham Alexander, the herpetologist from Wits University, has seen Geoff, and told him that it'll be 5 or 6 days before he's out of the woods. He's also confused as to the symptoms, and said it's not typical of a Boomslang bite, so if anyone has a good photo of the snake in the tree on the Saturday, please let me know, so you can pass it on to Graham for him to get a better idea of what the snake looked like/size etc. The question has to be asked as to whether it was in fact the actual culprit.

I spoke to a Dr. Roger Blaylock this morning, who's one of the foremost authorities in South Africa on the management of snakebites (he's apparently had dealings with Milpark regarding Geoff), and says Geoff is fine. His blood count has improved, and a count for an iron-something (didn't get the medical term!) in the blood, which should be at 1.0, is now down to 1.3.

Having said that, his kidney's have stopped functioning, and he's going to go onto dialysis. They're not sure if it's the venom or the serum that has caused this, but Geoff is quite cheerful, and seems as though he'll have to work through a process before being all clear!

The Star and Die Beeld visited him yesterday, and there are articles and photo's of his "dirty foot" (Cynthia's words, not mine!) in the papers this morning.

I'll update you all once I've heard more.

All the best
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Re: Rare snakebite at Talamati

Unread post by Guinea Pig » Wed Feb 04, 2009 11:18 am

The Boomslang is a back-fanged species with small fixed fangs set far back on the jawbone, usually under the eyes.
Image
Bites are very rare, usually amateur and professional handlers being the victims. The boomslang has variable colour - from uniform green (usually male) to brown, black or brick red.
Image
It's seen most during the day, very shy and non-aggressive. The common or polyvalent antivenom doesn't neutralize its venom so a one of a kind or monovalent antivenom has to be used. It can only be obtained in confirmed cases of Boomslang bites. [Please, I am not a fundi on snakes so stand corrected on any errors. I am fascinated by them and have a collection of info I thought may be useful. The pics are NOT mine. The skeleton comes from a pamphlet given to me by a family member who was a handler. The snake from my field guide.]
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Re: Rare snakebite at Talamati

Unread post by mosij » Sat Feb 07, 2009 2:36 pm

My SO & I popped in to see Geoff this morning. Whilst he's not out of the woods yet all the signs are enouraging and he's looking good and feeling much better than the numbers on his blood work would suggest and his kidney function is slowly improving.

What's even better is that his sense of humour has definitely survived - he told us he'd been 'standing on his soap box' the previous day disputing the fact that you had to shove your hand down a boomslangs throat to get bitten, if only he'd know he'd have added 'stick around until tomorrow & I'll show you!'

He also said that the messages & good wishes were fantastic & thanks to everyone for their support

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Re: Boomslang

Unread post by BushSnake » Sun Feb 08, 2009 9:15 pm

Phil, boomslang venom is haemotoxic, which means that it effects the blood clotting. Unlike cytotoxic (cell destroying) or neurotoxic (nerve impulse destroying) haemotoxins takes a relatively long time to cause symptoms so he should have had more than enough time for the 5 hour drive. For any other venomous snake in SA, you should definitely get to the nearest hospital as soon as possible! Also, monovalent antivenom, which is used only for boomslang bites are only stocked in Joburg, so he would have had to come to Gauteng in any case. Hope this answers your question.
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Re: Boomslang

Unread post by BushSnake » Mon Feb 09, 2009 8:32 am

Treatment for every other highly venomous snake should (no guarantees) be available at most of the local hospitals, but they only stock polyvalent antivenom which is used for cobras, mambas, puff adders, etc. Monovalent antivenom is only used for boomslang, and because bites are so rare and the antivenom has a very limited shelf life, it is kept in a central spot.
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Re: Boomslang; Geoff - more news

Unread post by mosij » Mon Feb 09, 2009 5:05 pm

Graham Alexander visited him today & reports the following;

He's been taken off dialysis and after a brief dip, his kidney finction continues to improve.
The next stage will be to move him out of high care to a general ward and everything goes well he'll be released from hospital either tomorrow or the following day.

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Re: Boomslang - from the horses mouth

Unread post by mosij » Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:59 am

Hi the Net
After more than a week in 'limbo' I am (briefly) back at my computer......and slowly catching up on things. Thanks to Wiggie of the West Rand Honarary Rangers, all of you have been kept in the loop regarding my progress and I can confirm that, thankfully, my kidney function seems to becoming back!
It will be some time before I can respond individually to all for the hundreds of prayers, messages, wishes for a quick recovery and support that I have received over the past 12 days......and even then, I am sure that I will miss someone so please let me say a massive thank you to all of you.
Knowing that my birding friends were out there wishing me well offered tremendous support during what was for Cynthia and I, a rather scary time.
Fortunately, it appears that I was too 'slow' (do I hear a few giggles out there?) to realise just how badly the bite had affected me and was therefore puzzled why the staff in the Milpark Hospital High Care section kept looking as though they expected me to collapse at any second - I never really felt particularly ill!
It turns out that by the time we reached the hospital, in addition to the loss of clotting in my blood, my kidneys had all but shut down and various blood toxins had already reached dangerously elevated levels. After three dialysis sessions to bring the urea and creatine levels in the blood as quickly as possible down to safer levels, my own kidneys have shown encouraging signs of recovery and each daily set of blood tests since Sunday has shown a small but steady decline in the levels of these toxins as well as a small improvement in filtration function.
For an (alleged) control freak, the time in hospital has been a strange experience and I must commend everyone involved in my treatment for making/letting go the reigns' so easy.
Their universal professionalism,confidence, competence and caring attitudes; their humour under trying circumstances was both humbling and uplifting.
It was wonderful to be able to just lie back knowing that regardless of any small setback that things were under control. And what now?
I spent half an hour on the roof of the Delta Environmental Centre early this morning - just enjoying getting back in touch the birds of my patch and enjoying the freedom from the 'tyranny' of hospital schedules.
The bite has put a bit of a dent in my atlasing, and also delayed my submissions of cards for the Talamati area for the Kruger Birding weekend - and I am itching to get back.
I will still need to take it easy for a while but 2607_2800 will be back in business soon!
Thanks again to everyone,
Happy birding and happy atlasing (just remember to check the ground every now and then!) Geoff

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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by Pjw » Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:17 pm

Hi there
We saw these 2 snakes ? mating high up in a tree at our timeshare on the Crocodile river. We thought they were boomslang because of the large eyes. Unfortunately I could not get a photo of the head. All the photos are tkaen from underneath as they were about 2m up in the tree
Image

Image

Image

Any help with ID would appreciated
Thanks Pat
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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by Boorgatspook » Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:29 pm

Hi Pat, i'm no expert on snakes but i tend to agree with you that it's a boomslang. (Rather difficult to id from the photo's) A charateristic feature of the boomslang is their large eyes in proportion to the head as well as along with their keeled body scales.

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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by Mfezi » Sun Mar 08, 2009 7:12 pm

Hi PJW

I tend to agree with Boorgatspook that it is Boomslang. Very few snakes (except for most of the adders) have keeled scales and that will climb up so high up in a tree. Now I know the height that a snake is up in a tree is for sure no way to identify it. One thing is for sure that these snakes have keeled scales. From what I can see it also does look like their tails are much much longer and thinner than the usual snake. The little bit that I can see on the middle photo of the one snake's head also gives me the impression of Boomslang.

Anyway a great sighting and very well spotted. :thumbs_up:

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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by francoisd » Wed Apr 29, 2009 4:26 pm

Can someone help with ID of this snake. Seen in bush next to road, 2km north of Satara in Kruger

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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by BushSnake » Wed Apr 29, 2009 5:52 pm

Yip. That's a nice boomslang (most likely a male as females are normally brown, but not always).
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