Summer’s hit the Cape in a big way, which means ample picnics, hikes and other outdoor activities. It also means bugs and, for those venturing onto Table Mountain and its surrounds, snakes.
While most common snakes found in the Cape are harmless, there are a few that could do serious harm if they bite you. Here, we break down the three most common snakes to look out for.
1 Puff Adder
Although the Puff Adder’s venom is super toxic, death only occurs in about 10% of all untreated cases. That’s not to say its bite isn’t deathly. About 100 mg can kill a healthy human adult male after approximately 25 hours. Puff Adders measure around one metre in length and their colour varies according to region. The best way to identify a Puff Adder is by two dark bands on the head – one on the crown, the other between its eyes. Don’t get too close though. While they may be hefty, they are quick to strike.
2 Cape Cobra
Also known as the yellow cobra or ‘geelslang’, the Cape Cobra is highly venomous and feeds on other snakes, rodents, lizards, birds and carrion. It is mostly found on rocky hills around the Cape as well as in desert and semi-desert areas. When disturbed, the Cobra raises its forebody off the ground, raises a hood and hisses. Slowly retreat if this occurs as these snakes strike without hesitation when they are on the defensive.
Be wary of this creature, which has large round eyes and exceptional eyesight. Measuring up to 160 cm in length, the boomslang will often move its head from side to side to get a better view of objects. Male boomslangs are light green with blue or black scale edges while females are predominantly brown. The good news? The boomslang is a timid snake and will only attack if they feel threatened.
Photography Gerrie Heyns/Cape Snake Conservation – Cape Town Snake Catchers 24/7, pixabay.com, Gerhard Fourie/Cape Snake Conservation – Cape Town Snake Catchers 24/7