July 16th is World Snake Day, so here are a few fascinating facts about those slithery serpents. Join us in celebrating just how amazing these creatures are!
The muscles: African rock python (Python sebae)
The African rock python is one of two python species occurring in Africa – one found in Central and Western Africa (Python sebae sebae), and the other further south in Southern Africa (Python sebae natalensis).
African rock pythons are non-venomous and are classified as constrictors. They prefer to lie in wait and ambush their prey.
They use their incredibly strong muscles to crush and suffocate their prey and are capable of eating a 40kg antelope! A huge meal like that will take months to digest.
The speed: Western striped-bellied sand snake (Psammophis subtaeniatus)
This mainly terrestrial snake is quite common and incredibly quick! They are found in Southern Africa and are active during the day (diurnal), feeding on lizards, birds, frogs, and rodents.
They use their speed to evade predators and threats by slithering off incredibly quickly to the nearest bush where they remain still, camouflaged by the foliage.
It is mildly venomous, but harmless to humans, and the adults can reach up to 1.4 meters in length.
The sight: Boomslang (Dispholidus typus)
The boomslang, which is Afrikaans for ‘tree snake’, is a highly venomous, diurnal snake found in sub-Saharan Africa, such as in South Africa, Swaziland, Mozambique, Botswana, and Namibia.
As its name suggests, the boomslang prefers to hang out in trees and shrubs, and eats prey such as lizards, frogs, chameleons, small mammals and birds.
Males come in a variety of colours (such as bright green, deep red, or black and yellow), while the females are duller with shades of olive-brown and grey (juveniles have bright emerald eyes and twig-coloured bodies).
Apart from the colouring, the boomslang’s eyes are another prominent feature. Their large eyes signify superior vision which enables them to hunt during the day, spotting prey before it even moves!
The agility: Spotted bush snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus)
This beautiful, totally harmless snake is widespread throughout Southern Africa – and quite a common species to spot, especially in KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa.
They will roam great distances to find food, and eat small prey such as lizards (particularly geckos and chameleons) and frogs.
Spotted bush snakes are excellent climbers and swimmers and have been spotted climbing up walls. If they feel threatened they will inflate their neck to show off the vivid blue skin between the scales in an attempt to look bigger (and more dangerous) to ward off the threat.
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