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Snake: Spotted Bush

Find, identify & discuss the marine species of SANParks

Unread post by Jumbo » Fri Sep 29, 2006 9:18 am

As I said, snake season has started! :roll:
Yesterday Zebra spotted the snake in the roof of the carport….When I heard her suppressed scream, I just knew we had another slithering visitor. It was on a beam right above the place where I, a few minutes before, got out of the car….a few cm above my head. :shock:
I really could not believe it even though, in a strange way, I was sort of expecting it. I have to confess, I did utter a few unsavoury words. :?

The snake retreated back in-between the beams and initially it was quite difficult to even see what colour it was. With the shadow above him we could not even see its spots, and based on the shape of its head, I thought it might even be a black mamba. I was shaking so much that all my pix came out blurred, so I convinced Zebra that I use her as a tripod :lol:


Later it came out a bit and we noticed the green and spots. Then I thought it might be a boomslang, but the eyes were not big enough and the shape on the head was also not right. :?


I went to scan my book…that was inside the car….got in on the other side :lol:
I was then able to ID it as a harmless Spotted Bush Snake. After this we just left him where he was and went on out chores. He came out more and I was able to get better shots. He was much longer than what I initially thought.



He eventually came out a lot more, so that a bit of him was suspended in the air. Every now and then I would have to walk past him and then would pull back his head while aggressively moving it from side-to side. @Pilane, if ID is incorrect and this is not a harmless Spotted Bush Snake, please do not tell me! :twisted:
When we left he was still in the roof. 8)

Some info on the Spotted Bush Snake, taken from Johan Marais’ book “ A complete guide to the snakes of Southern Africa.

“The snake was previously known as the Variegated Bush Snake”
Afrikaans name: Gespikkelde bosslang

It is found in a wide variety of habitats: from moist savannah and lowland forest, to karoo scrub

“Eye has a round pupil with a golden or orange iris”
“The tongue is bright blue with a black tip”
“Usually has black speckles on the front half of the body”

“It is an excellent climber and, with its keeled belly scales, can easily climb up the rough bark of a tree or even up face-brick walls. :roll: It often enters houses and outbuildings, especially those that have shrubs planted against the window. When threatened, it may inflate its neck to expose the vivid blue skin between the scales. Like the Boomslang, it will raise its head off the ground and undulate the neck. The Spotted Bush Snake is very common throughout most of its range, often inhabiting the space between walls and corrugated roofs where it feeds on geckos. It soon moves off when disturbed and bites readily if handled. At night it sleeps loosely coiled on the outer branches of vegetation.”

This snake is often mistaken for the Green Mamba or Boomslang.
It is of no danger to man.

The photos in this thread has obviously not been taken inside a park and thus technically it is non-SANParks related. Mods, if you feel the topic should be removed I will not have a problem with it. I’m in the “fortunate” position to have seen 7 different kinds of snakes (some types more than ones) in one year at this house. When I encounter the snakes, I always first try to get a photo (obviously using the zoom at its full potential :lol: ) in order to ID my visitor …thus I’m also in the position of getting a lot of pix of the different snakes. I’m trying to learn as much as possible about them and would like to share the knowledge I get. Considering that the photos was taken on the border of Kruger and all these snakes thus are also found inside Kruger, I hope my postings might give some info. to others. But, as I said, I will not have an issue if the topic is removed. :wink:

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Unread post by arks » Fri Sep 29, 2006 7:29 pm

Yes, a really beautiful snake, Jumbo!! And I agree that all the information you supply on KNP-area snakes is extremely useful and interesting, so I'm glad that it will stay — as well as the always interesting tales of your encounters and your struggles to ID your snakes correctly. I think all of this information is both interesting and useful to us all — and most especially for those forumites who also live where they may encounter such snakes in their homes and gardens as well as in the parks that they visit. Thanks, Jumbo, for yet another valuable contribution!!
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Unread post by Pilane » Fri Sep 29, 2006 11:48 pm

Jumbo, if you leave him undisturbed he would probably become part of your family. (Meaning that it will take up residency up in and around the house)....

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Unread post by Pilane » Tue Oct 10, 2006 10:01 pm

....relaxed somewhat as the Spotted snake is not fatal to humans I am told.....

How could it be .. The Spotted Bush Snake has no venom glands at all.. or fangs for that matter.

...I ran after it to get a positive ID wrong thing to do to get the blood circulation going ...

Not really, It will probably have less effect than the effect of shock. The only problem is that you might end up with a second bite..

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Spotted Bush Snake

Unread post by Agama » Sun Mar 16, 2008 9:50 pm

Many people refer to these snakes as harmless snakes in their works.
Although they do not have fangs and venom glands they kill their prey, lizards & geckos just by biting and holding on to the prey animal.
They do not kill by constriction.
Their saliva has a paralysing effect on the lizard.
The lizards are subdued and swallowed.
I was told that someone was bitten on his arm and the bite site swelled the size of chicken egg.
This prompted some research that was done some years ago.
I'll try and get a reprint of this and share this information with you.
About two months ago someone brought me a bush snake he caught that bit his Bull Terrier puppy.
The puppy died after being bitten.
So, it is interesting for me to read about the symptoms you experienced. Regards Agama

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Unread post by Pilane » Mon Mar 17, 2008 6:21 pm

Agama, Get this info PLease!! 8) I have heard of this theory that they have caused problems with humans.

I call it a theory as I have been bitten by a bushsnake on more than one occasion without any effect. The Only instance I do know where the bite of a bush snake turned "bad' turned out to be a green phase of a Many spotted snake of KZN! And it was not that bad after all... the damaged egos were more serious than the pain and swelling of the actual bite... :D

Be carefull when looking at the affect of venom in animals. Venom have very different effects on cats and dogs and wild animals than on humans. For example the sydney funnel web spider. The venom of this spider has no effect on dogs and cats but is lethal to humans :wink:


Unread post by Jumbo » Mon Mar 31, 2008 8:38 am

Peter Betts wrote:[I dont know Pilane, I didnt see the snake bite me but felt it and thought I had id'ed it properly lovely green snake with brown markings after spotting it and chasing it for awhile to "make sure".

As Pilane said, maybe this was the green variety of the Many-spotted snake…it looks very much like a Spotted Bush Snake? :? The Many-spotted snake has a mild venom that can cause swelling and pain.

@Michele, I’m definitely not brave :lol: ….you have to see me shake and shiver when I encounter these snakes. :redface: When they are in your roof or on your veranda you however do not have much of an option than to ID them and watch where they are going.

Just for the record, this Spotted Bush Snake actually stayed in our roof for several months and sorted out the gecko problem I had. I’m not over exaggerating if I say we almost had 50 of Turner’s Thick-toed Geckos staying in our thatch roof. I love these geckos but they managed to completely mess up our house in one day. The Spotted Bush Snake brought this gecko population down considerably…. nature balanced itself out. 8)

Another “handy” snake to have around is a is a Brown House Snake…this guy will quickly sort out any rodent problem you might have. We had such a problem at our house in Maputo, till a Brown House Snake moved into the cover of the swimming pool pump. For a long time we had no rats of mice around. Unfortunately a temporary guard we had, killed the snake, and now all the rats are back. :evil:


Unread post by Jumbo » Tue Apr 01, 2008 3:01 pm

Agama wrote:Pilane referred to a case in KZN. According to my knowledge the Many-spotted snake does not occur in KNP. I'll not be surprised if Peter Betts was in fact bitten by a Bush Snake.

Hi Agama

From the distribution map in my book, it appears the Many-spotted snake should be found in the southwestern parts of Kruger, and quite a distance further north, along the western boundary of Kruger…..bit difficult to see, but it could be as far north as the Shingwedzi area (but a few km to the west). If this however includes the green variation of this specie, I’m not sure….would be interesting to hear more…. 8)

As for people having an reaction to a bite from a Spotted Bush Snake….I wonder if this might not just be due to an infection from bacteria that was transmitted with the bite? :?

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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by francoisd » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:51 am

While walking the perimeter fence at Berg-en-Dal my wife heard the electric fence shooting sparks just behind her (I was still adding some birds to my list some distance back.)

When she looked around this snake was the fence trying to make its way back to the tree above (from which it most probably fell) and was getting electrocuted on the electrical wires and eventually fell back onto the fence.

When I arrived it looked dead and I took a couple of close-ups. Eventually after a number of minutes there was a slight movement of the head again.

Is it a Spotted Bush Snake?
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Two German ladies came walking down the pathway. Saw the snake.
The follow short conversation took place:
They: "Is it dead".
Me: "Yes"
They: "Where did it come from?"
Me: "It fell from the tree"
One to the other: "Well I think we should turn around"
Off the went back in the direction they came.

Later found them having a drink at the restaurant. First thing they asked: "Is it still dead?"
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Re: Identification help: Snakes

Unread post by Rusty Justy » Thu Apr 30, 2009 7:58 am

Spotted Bush Snake :thumbs_up: :lol: Pity about the electricution!
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Can anyone ID this snake.

Unread post by bondm » Fri May 08, 2009 4:53 pm

I took this picture in the park last November but unfortunately I have no African snake books in the UK.
It moved quite fast and after going up a small tree literally dissappeared.
Bond U.K.

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Re: Can anyone ID this snake.

Unread post by Roger the Dodger » Fri May 08, 2009 5:05 pm


Looks like a spotted bush snake from my book.

Description of habits from my book ( Sasol Field Guide to Snakes & Other Reptiles ), Accomplished speed climber, well camouflaged in foliage.


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Re: Can anyone ID this snake.

Unread post by Boorgatspook » Fri May 08, 2009 9:16 pm

Yes Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus) Its a excellent speedy climber. Bites readily but harmless.

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Re: bush snake having lunch

Unread post by antje naja » Sun Aug 02, 2009 1:23 pm




...that looks better....

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Re: bush snake having lunch

Unread post by Meandering Mouse » Sun Aug 02, 2009 3:07 pm

A very warm welcome to you, Antje :D

That is a very impressive photograph. Very handsome looking snake indeed. Looks like it has a great big smile of glee on its face. Not a happy gecko.

Thanks for sharing with us. I hope that we see a lot more of you in future.
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