LYDENBURG – Snakes in South Africa,
and the rest of Africa, do not hibernate in
This is why it is important to still be aware of these reptiles, even in winter. To determine whether a snake is venomous or not can be quite confusing, according to local snake expert or herpetologist, Paul Swanepoel.
Not only does Swanepoel remove and handle snakes in town, he is also an avid reptile photographer. “In Lydenburg we can focus on six common venomous snakes. This helps to narrow down the distinction between highly venomous snakes, mildly venomous and non-venomous snakes.”
Swanepoel said that the town and surrounding area are a known habitat for the following highly venomous snakes: the common night adder, the Mozambique spitting cobra, puff adder, rinkhals, southern stiletto snake and boomslang.
Black mambas are seldomly spotted in town, but can be found on the outskirts. “Everyone has seen the pictures on Google on how to differentiate a venomous snake from a non-venomous snake. No one is, however, aware that these pictures are seldom used to distinguish between the those in South Africa. The pictures displaying the difference in eyes, head and nose features are more commonly used for snakes in America.”
He said the best way to identify a venomous snake in your area is to familiarise yourself with the most commonly found venomous reptiles. “Snakes with lines or patterns down the body do have venom, but is not potent. Then we have snakes with lines or bands across the body. Those are usually highly venomous. Snakes that have an exceptional shine to their body are mostly non-venomous. These are, however, just guidelines and cannot always be safely applied to all snakes.”
There are common misperceptions about snakes. These include that a boomslang will drop out of a tree onto you to bite you, a puff adder will immediately strike when you step on it and a cobra will attack you.
“There are a lot less dangerous snakes. If
you can identify them, you should be safe.”
The best way to ensure your safety is to
contact a snake expert for the removal of the snake. Swanepoel can be contacted on 079-983-6818. All photos supplied were taken by Swanepoel himself.
You get several types of venom when it comes to snakes. The three basic toxins expelled in snake venom include hemotoxic venom, that affects the heart and cardiovascular system, neurotoxic venom that affects the nervous system and brain, and cytotoxic venom that has a localised effect on the bite area.