NATAL BLACK SNAKE
This harmless snake is sometimes confused with the black mamba and is often killed. The average length is 90cm. It is a good swimmer. The colouring ranges from uniform inky black to jet black all round. It has a unique pattern on its head. Very few bites have been recorded except for one accident, where the person lost conciousness for about 30 minutes. Antivenom is not required and, in any case, is not effective.
As can be seen in the picture, the black mamba is not black, with the very rare exception. It is the inside of the mouth that is jet black. This is a very dangerous, nervous, unpredictable snake with an average length of 3m. It is South Africa's largest poisonous snake. It hunts during the day but is mainly arboreal, staying high in the trees. The young are just as venomous as the adults are and, if picked up, can lift upward to bite. The venom is neurotoxic.
BROWN HOUSE SNAKE
The diagnostic pattern over the eye suggests that this is a Brown House Snake. I have never seen this pattern of scales before. This snake is far too small to catch monkeys, so either the snake is an aberation, or it is not a house snake, or the prey is a large lizard.
These snakes are often found in cupboards in the house or in workshops or garages, or garden sheds. They are constrictors. If you try to remove them, they resist with much strength, pulling against you, until you eventually put a bucket over them and catch them in it. You could catch them by hand. If they have not been traumatised, they will allow you to pick them up (allow them to climb your arm). They are very gentle and non-venomous to man.
NATAL GREEN SNAKE
In this pic is the Western Natal Green Snake. It's coloration is usually turquoise green, especially on the head and tail. The Eastern Natal Green Snake's dorsal colour tends to be bright-green to yellow-green. The average length is 90cm. Its diet consists of frogs and gekos. This snake is also a constrictor. It is totally harmless.
The last of the green coloured snakes in this series. Not as venomous as the black mamba and also less nervous, few bites have been recorded. This snake is diurnal and spends most of its time in trees, where it feeds on small tree-dwelling animals, bats, birds and their eggs and chameleons. They are very rarely seen. The average length is 1.8m, can grow to 2.5m. Hatchlings measure 30-45cm. The venom is neurotoxic.
This snake accounts for the most serious bites in South Africa. It is slow-moving, excitable and bad tempered. It may hiss or puff when disturbed. It has long fangs (up to 18mm). It strikes fast and accurately. It is not seen in Leisure Bay as often as the other snakes are. Unfrortunately it is often confused with the Rhombic night adder. The average length is 90cm. The venom is cytotoxic.
RHOMBIC NIGHT ADDER
This mildly venomous snake is unfortunately confused with the previous one, and so some are needlessly killed. People and animals that have been bitten have been treated with antihistamines. Never-the-less, if bitten, seek medical attention. These slow-moving snakes love frogs. Many locals have taken pictures of this snake swallowing one. When disturbed they tend to move off slowly. They are an average 60cm in length. The venom is cytotoxic.
Another pic of this snake. Note the V marking on its head. This is the best way to identify it. They are extremely common in Leisure Bay gardens. If you have a wood-pile you probably have one of these residing there.
Very little is known about the venom of this snake, but it is regarded as harmless to man. The upper lip can be red, white, orange-red, yellow or blackish - a beautiful snake with lipstick! I found one when I lifted the front-door doormat. It was curled up, sleeping. I replaced the mat and when I lifted it later, the snake was still there. It lifted its head and looked at me as if to say "ok! I'll find somewhere else to sleep!" It unrolled, straightened out and proceeded to slowly wriggle away. When it feels threatened, it looks fearsome and will raise its flattened head while hissing and striking with mouth open! This snake is nocturnal. Its average length is 70cm.
SOUTHERN AFRICAN PYTHON
This picture of a baby was taken by Hester Du Toit. The snake aparently swam off into the sea to escape what it saw as a threat. It was probably someone's pet that had escaped.
This is the largest snake in Southern Africa. It averages 3-4m and may reach 6m elsewhere in Africa or in captivity.
It is most active at night, though very fond of basking in the sun, especially after a nice large meal. It has powerful recurved teeth with which it holds onto prey while it constricts it. Contrary to popular belief, it does not crush its prey to death and never breaks bones. Death is caused by cardiac failure (or so it is thought), and contrary to popular belief, it does not anchor it's tail around a tree before it starts constricting. It loves water and can remain submerged for long periods.
There are many present in Leisure Bay, Glenmore and Munster.
Very fiew incidents of human fatalities have occured, certainly not in South Africa.
Many non-indigenous pythons have been imported into South Africa and they have both caused much harm to our local python population and our wildlife.
When the snakes become too big for the household they are let out into the wild.
They eat dassies, cane rats, hares, monkeys, small antelope and gamebirds.
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