Top 6 Highly Venomous Southern African Snakes

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In this article, we will talk about the top 6 highly venomous southern African snakes. So let’s start


Boomslang venomous african snake

Scientific Name:- Dispholidus typus

Length:- 100cm – 160 cm

Habitat:- Trees and shrubs in arid and moist savanna, lowland forest, and fynbos.

Identification:- The diagnostic feature of the boomslang irrespective of its color, is its enormous eyes, which are the largest of all African snakes; and the short stubby head.

Color variation is far greater than any other South African snake. Adult females are usually brown. Males are light green sometimes with blue and black-edged scales.

Habits:- An arboreal species that may descend from trees to bask and move over the ground or even swim across a stream in pursuit of its prey. It is beautifully camouflaged, can move swiftly if disturbed, and has stereoscopic vision. If provoked the boomslang will inflate the neck region to more than twice the normal size.

Venom:- Potently haemotoxic, causing severe bleeding internally and from mucous surfaces. May result in fatal haemarrhage if untreated. Although the venom is extremely potent it is slow-acting and may take more than 24-48 hours to produce serious symptoms.

An effective Boomslang antivenom is available. Victims should be hospitalised for at least 48 hours. This snake has a docile temperament, but under extreme provocation, it inflates its throat and will strike without hesitation with its mouth wide gape.

Reproduction:- Oviparous, laying 8-25 eggs in tree hollows or leaf litter. In spring which hatches some 70-100 days later. The young measure 29-38cm in length.

Feeding:- They hunt during the day. Their excellent vision aids them in catching prey, which consists of chameleons, arboreal lizards, birds, and their nestlings, birds eggs (which are swallowed whole), and occasionally frogs and seldom small mammals. Prey is actively pursued, seized, and chewed to introduce the toxic venom, which quickly kills the victim.

Berg Adder or Cape Mountain Adder

Berg adder african snake

Scientific Name:- Bitis atropos

Length:- 20CM – 60CM

Habitat:- Inhabits montane grasslands, coastal and montane fynbos. Found above the snowline in the Drakensberg.

Habits:- Hisses and bites readily.

Venom:- Neurotoxic, causes drooping eyelids, dizziness, and temporary loss of taste and smell. Most symptoms resolve in a few (1-2) days. Anti-venom is ineffective.

Reproduction:- Mating occurs in autumn, prior to hibernation. In late summer(Dec-Feb) 4-15 young are born. Young measure 9-15cm.

Feeding:- Juveniles eat amphibians, while adults also take lizards and rodents. Nestlings of ground-living birds and small snakes are also taken

Cape Cobra

Cape cobra Venomous snake

Scientific Name:- Naja nivea

Length:- 120CM – 200CM

Habitat:- Fynbos; Karoo; Savanna; Namib and Kalahari.

Habits:- The most dangerous of all African cobras. The Cape Cobra will stand its ground facing the enemy.

Habits:- The most dangerous of all African cobras. The Cape Cobra will stand its ground facing the enemy.

Reproduction:- The females lay 8-20 eggs in summer. Hatchlings measure 35cm-40cm. Juveniles are yellow with a dark brown band on the throat.

Feeding:- Eats rodents, snakes(including its own kind), lizards, frogs, birds, and eggs.

Green Mamba

Green mamba venomous snake

Scientific Name:- Dendroaspis angusticeps

Length:- 1.8 m to 2.5 m

Identification:- The head is long and coffin-shaped. The body is green with the belly light green. The body scale is smooth. The inside lining of the mouth is white.

Habitat:- This snake is strictly arboreal and found only in forested areas.

Habits:- It is a shy snake and is rarely seen.

Feeding:- Eats birds, eggs, chameleons and may also take small tree-dwelling mammals.

Reproduction:- Males engage in combat during the breeding season. They intertwine while the head and neck of the opponent are forced to the ground. This may last several hours. In summer 7 to 17 eggs are laid.

Egyptian Cobra

Egyptian Cobra venomous snake

Scientific name:- Naja annulifera

Length:- 1.5m to 3m.

Habitat:- Inhabits savannah, bushveld, and Lowveld throughout Africa. Lives in hollow tree trunks and around rocky outcrops.

Habits:- When threatened it will spread a hood and hiss. It can also sham death.

Venom:- Venom is highly toxic and death results from paralysis and heart failure.

Feeding:- Eats lizards, birds, eggs, small mammals, and other snakes.

Reproduction:- It lays 8 to 33 eggs in early summer.

Black Mamba

black mamba venomous snake

Scientific name:– Dendroaspis polylepis

Length :- 2 m – 4.3 m

Identification:- The Black mamba is not black; but grey to olive with dull, smooth scales. The name refers to the inside lining of the mouth which is black.

Habitat:- Inhabits savannah and coastal bush where it lives in abandoned burrows and between rocks.

Habits:- This terrestrial snake is nervous and bites readily. The large size, speed, potent venom, and hunting ability make this the most feared snake in Africa. It can strike chest-high with a series of bites. If this snake feels threatened it will gape, hiss, and spread a narrow hood.

Venom:- The venom is highly neurotoxic and large doses are injected when bitten. The venom is viscous and fast-acting causing impaired vision, slurring of the tongue, and the muscles become paralyzed. Death results from respiratory failure.

Feeding:- Actively hunts small mammals and birds.

Reproduction:- Males engage in combat during spring by intertwining and forcing the head and neck of the opponent to the ground. In summer 6 to 18 eggs are laid in hollow tree trunks, leaf litter, and abandoned burrows. The eggs hatch after 80 to 90 days.

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These were our top 6 highly venomous Southern African snakes.


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