Well so far most of our stories have only been about new comers (born) and updates on the lions.

I thought I would write about something different for a change. How about Snakes?clip_image002

Even though snakes are related to other reptiles they are thought to have evolved from lizards.

A snake’s vision is quite good but used mainly for detecting movement, it can also see well and can choose where to go to avoid objects in its path.

The forked tongue of a snake cannot harm a person as it is used only for smelling.

Just before spring, which is around September here in our part of  South Africa, snakes start becoming active as it is the time of year in which to find a mate.  Some snakes hibernate during the winter month and we often hear of them being referred to as being cold blooded (exothermic). This does not however mean that their blood is cold but merely that they cannot regulate their own body temperature and thus rely on heat from the sun to warm them up. They will then move into shade in order to cool down again. This is why you sometimes see them basking out in the open for example on a rock or in the middle of the road.

Most people have the idea that all snakes are harmful and should be killed but as a matter of fact they are more afraid of us than we are of  them. A  snake would rather flee than to go out of its way to attack something or someone.

Most snake bites are the result of people being  careless. They usually want to pick snakes up to have a closer look and in order to investigate them.  A snake only becomes really aggravated when it realizes that there is no other way for it to escape other than to bite in order to protect itself from being harmed. Most of the time it tends to be what is referred to as “a dry bite”. A snake has the ability to control its venom glands and can decide whether it wants to inject venom or not.

The most common and frequent snake bites here in Southern Africa result from the Puff Adder Bitis arietans, which is a highly venomous snake. The venom of this snake is cytotoxic (cell-destroying) which means that it attacks tissue and blood cells and destroys them. The majority of bites from these snakes occur in the lowveld area.

Things to look out for when trying to identify a Puff Adder:

· Short stubby snake with a triangular head

· yellow to gray-brown with dark backward-pointing chevron pattern on back and stomach

· may hiss or puff

· usually found on the ground

· very active after sunset

Story by: Casper Marais Kapama River Lodge Ranger

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