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Snakes

Find, identify & discuss the marine species of SANParks
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Twiga
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Snakes

Unread post by Twiga » Wed Feb 02, 2005 8:56 pm

I have read alot of stories here on the forum about episodes with snakes. I am absolutely petrified of snakes! :shock: Are there many snakes around in June or will they be hibernating at that time of year? Some reassurance please!
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bwana
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Unread post by bwana » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:35 pm

katja wrote:Most snakes hibernate during winter, so there won't be many snakes around in June.
But you might still see a few. I saw one snake on the road in June 2003 and one in June 2004.



Guess who will be walking in front everwhere in Kruger in June! :lol: :lol:
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Unread post by Guinea Pig » Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:47 pm

Sorry, Twiga! :lol: Seriously now - you shouldn't have too much trouble in the winter. But always keep your eyes peeled. In the evenings - if you walk outside, try avoiding barefoot, always use a flashlight. NEVER just pick up a rock, piece of wood or something that's been lying around for some time. Make sure first.
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Tabs
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Unread post by Tabs » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:34 pm

I have had a few 'encounters' with snakes in SA but none of them were life-threatening or even remotely scary.

I think that you have to be quite unlucky or a bit careless to get bitten by a snake - if you think about it, there are tons of people in Africa who live among snakes every day of their lives but who never get bitten.

The biggest risk for me comes from walking among the vegetation (grass) in the bush, which you are unlikely to do often as a tourist but which I have done a few times, and stepping on a puff-adder, as they are very sedentary and do not move at the approach of any animal or human.

Apart from puff adders, the only other snake that I have 'extreme respect for' while out walking is the black mamba but I have yet to come across one in my many bush walks.

The cobras are high on my 'must see' list - I have seen a few of the other venomous snakes, or members of their families, at fairly close quarters but have yet to see a cobra!

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bwana
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Unread post by bwana » Wed Feb 02, 2005 10:46 pm

Saw this python in Lower Sabie, but it is not clear in the photo just how long it was:

Image
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wildtuinman
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Unread post by wildtuinman » Thu Feb 03, 2005 6:34 am

Snakes are not uncommon during winter in the Park. Last year July we saw a +- 3m long black mamba +- 2km outside Shingwedzi gate. A research team researching fruit bats there also saw a moz spitting cobra.

Most of the snakes, including venomous ones like black mambas and boomslang, I've seen in the Park was in actual fact seen in the winter months.

Also be very carefull at night times in camps for night and puff adders. Not so sure whether they'll be that active in winter though!
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Unread post by wildtuinman » Thu Feb 03, 2005 9:39 am

Interesting about meeting snakes whilst hiking in the Kruger is that the rangers do carry some first aid kit with them and they know first aid themselves but when you get hit by a mamba or seriously injured by anything else they'll radio in a heli to come and fetch you.

Problem is that it might take some time for the heli to arrive and those minutes could be valuable when you had a ramba with mr. mamba. The rangers would like to tell you that the best rememdy is not to get bitten by it in the first place. With a bit of a smile on their faces.

Just 2 drops are enough to kill a human.Their venom is very potent and is mainly based on neurotoxins that are absorbed quickly by the prey. The venom will cause a blockade at the neuromuscular junction which blocks every signal from the brain passing through the nervous system to the muscles which causes systemic paralysis. The prey will die from suffocation due to paralysis of the muscles of respiration.
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Krokodile
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Unread post by Krokodile » Thu Feb 03, 2005 11:59 pm

craigsa wrote:
Snakes cant smell humans and their eyesight is not good.


...and humans can't smell snakes and our eyesight is not that great either!

My husband told me a story about when he went on a hiking trail in the Soutpansberg with a mate. They stopped for a rest and his mate sat down. My husband told him not to move as he had inadvertently sat down on a Puffadder. Bit of a stalemate as neither could move! Husbands mate eventually had to get up reaaaaally slowly and went paler than pale when he realised that it was really a puffadder. Even paler when he saw the puncture marks and venom on his backpack! When they got to camp, they opened the snakebite kit out of curiosity to see what was inside and found 2 ampoules of antivenom. The instructions said "in case of snakebite from a Puffadder, immediately inject 10 ampoules into a vein and immediately seek medical help".

I think dinner was a quiet affair that night.

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Unread post by bwana » Sat Feb 05, 2005 2:08 am

Pilane wrote:A snake can definitly smell humans! For Venom in your eyes urine is Ok but water will do just fine. (dilute antivenin 1:10 if available) The secret is to rinse youre eyes continious for about half a hour. to describe the feeling: If somone puts a cigarette out in your eye it would be soothing....
It is not advisable to carry antivenin. 1. It must be kept under 25 deg. 2. Expensive/ must be replaced often 3. A lot of people show alergic reaction to it- then you have big @#& !

Best treatment: Pressure bandage
Adenaline or cortisone injection and all is OK until you reach a hospital proviided that they know how to treat a snake bite!

You have a 3- 4 hour window for most snakes. eccept for nasties like the Black mamba, but then again a black mamba is not nearly as bad as its reputation. You won't get closer than 30m to one in the wild on foot unless you suprise or corner it..


I thought a pressure bandage was the last thing to do? Thanks for the reassurance about the mamba. I almost had to cancel my honeymoon!!
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Pilane
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Unread post by Pilane » Sat Feb 05, 2005 7:51 am

Always us a pressure bandage even for cytotoxic like a Puff adder; A puffadder also has cardio toxins in its venom, so your heart can be affected, which would you prefer- more tissue damage or heart failure..... its up to you. A pressure bandage can actually limit tissue damage if applied soon enough after the bite. What if you don't know what snake bit you, are you going to take the chance and not apply a pressure bandage?
Remember this bandage is not a torniquet and should not prevent blood circulation. The only case where you should'nt apply a bandage is with a boomslang or twig/ vine snake. The heamotoxic venom will only start to work after a day or more.

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wildtuinman
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Unread post by wildtuinman » Wed Feb 16, 2005 10:58 am

I can tell u that a puffadder is not a thing you want to cross your lightsaber with!

It's venom can kill up to 4 adults!

Luckily the venom works slowly but it is extremely venomous. It is cytotoxic and causes severe swelling, pain and necrosis. Which means that skin crafting will be your future if not treated quickly. It probably hits & kills more humans in Africa than any other snake as it lies deadstill until u step on it. Others normally flee.

You'll be lucky to disturb it following a hiss from the snake which you won't forget easily. It strikes quickly!!

It often swims, and lies on warm roads at night. It lives for up to 14 years if it has plenty of warmth and sunshine. Large amount of venom (100-350 mg); 100 mg is fatal in humans. The long fangs (12-18 mm) inject the venom deeply, and bites are usually inflicted on the lower leg.

Bites are common, but only a small proportion proves fatal; nonetheless, this snake causes over 60% of serious bites in the region, and is responsible for most of the fatalities. Death usually results from kidney failure and other complications caused by the extensive swelling.

It is essential to treat a victim of its bite for fluid loss, and
antivenom should be used in serious cases.

Read more about treatment : http://www-surgery.ucsd.edu/ent/DAVIDSO ... ietans.htm
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wildtuinman
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Unread post by wildtuinman » Thu Feb 17, 2005 8:41 am

On a hiking trail in the Park we came across a python track. It was about 30cm wide. Now that is a huge snake!!
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wildjohn
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Unread post by wildjohn » Mon Apr 04, 2005 9:04 am

Hi,

Echoing what wtm says, think its only temperate areas like highveld where they will be dormant in winter. Lowveld temp in winter is lekker (=nice - to those from abroad) on those roads.

wj

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Re: Venom of mfezi ?

Unread post by Jumbo » Thu Jun 01, 2006 8:30 am

wildjohn wrote:Hi Forumers,

Does anyone know why the mozambique spitting cobra (mfezi) has both cytotoxic and neurotoxic venom ?


Yours,
w


“Predominantly cytotoxic, causing serious local tissue damage that often requires skin grafts. Only slight neurotoxic symptoms, such as drowsiness, may occur and fatalities are rare. “ A Complete Guide to the snakes of Southern Africa, Johan Marais

I will leave this to the experts like Pilane or mfb to answer…I’m clueless as to why.
If I have to take a wild guess: Puffadders are part of the Moz. cobra’s diet, wonder if that hasn’t got anything to do with it. This is something I almost cannot believe…has anybody ever witness a Moz. cobra “catching” a puffadder?

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Albert
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Unread post by Albert » Thu Jun 01, 2006 10:51 am

As a comparative latecomer to the forums, I've only just read this thread...as we have virually always gone to Kruger in June/July, we have seen relatively few snakes, but over the past 2-3 years we have actually spotted quite a few. In the northern areas I discovered that one can quite frequently see snakes in the mid-morning on the "sunny" side of old termite mounds. Have spotted cobra, black mamba, a file snake, python, and a few "what the hell was that"s over the past few years.. :lol:
Searching for a Cape Eagle Owl....


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