Monday, January 3, 2011

Footless And Fancy-Free

A few pics of snakes I've encountered recently:

Stretch Moonman catches a Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake at the Namutoni Camp in Etosha - quite a feat as this is probably the fastest snake in southern Africa. It's mildly venomous but not dangerous to man.

I was taking pics when he released the creature - it came speeding between my legs before I could focus a shot.

This incident occurred about a hour before our Elephant Adventure.

Back at the Snake park where Stretch is the curator, he took me into the cage containing a Western-barred Spitting Cobra which he coaxed into spreading it's hood and spitting.

Naja nigricollis also injects a potent venom for which there is no anti-venom.

Nadine, a Brown House Snake - Lamprophis capensis - named after one of my two daughters who worked at the Lodge for awhile.

Harmless to humans, the House Snake feeds mainly on rodents, birds and lizards, which it kills by constriction.

A Puff Adder - Bitis arietans - this is the only snake I loathe with a passion, mainly because, unlike other snakes who usually move off when they detect the approach of humans, the Puffy is lazy and just stays lying where it is, often well camouflaged in long grass or under dead leaves - a trap waiting to be stepped on.

It strikes easily and has a potent tissue-destroying venom which can cause terrible disfiguring injuries or death if untreated.

Stretch took a hit from a Puff Adder about four years ago and I took these pics about three days after the incident. I must admit I expected the worst, I thought that he was going to lose his thumb. These are the 'nice' pics - they get worse as the venom spread.

Having witnessed the excruciating pain he went through I have great respect for Stretch - I believe it was only his attitude and mental strength which saved him from losing his thumb and, indeed, his whole hand.

I fear that under similar circumstances I might have cracked.

A Cape Cobra, (not sure of ID), eating eggs after chasing one of my hens off her nest - the bird was lucky because often the Cobra strikes at night, killing the hen when she refuses to move off the nest in the dark.

The snake was lucky too - a few years ago I would have reached for my shotgun, not my camera.

I was alerted to it when the birds started making an unholy racket outside.

See the egg in it's throat? - he got away with two.

Spirit was frolicking around my feet as I was taking pics, unaware of the danger.

Afraid that he'd accidentally pounce on the snake I grabbed him and chucked him into the house - when I returned the snake had disappeared into a thick Privet hedge.

What with snakes, mongooses and bush-cats, it's amazing that I have any chickens left at all.

Related Posts:
Cape Coral Snake - Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus
Horned Adder - Bitis caudalis



  1. Once again you've outdone yourself with the marvellous close ups. Those are great photos of snakes but they are one creature I'd rather not come across. At least not close up, lol. Stretch's thumb looks horrendous. It is amazing he didn't lose it all together. He does sound like a very strong fellow.

  2. Thanks Penny - sadly, for the majority of non-venomous snakes, the immediate reaction of most people to them is a primeval fear ...

    ... yeah, Stretch's thumb has almost healed completely now but he went through hell while it was healing.

  3. I have to go along with your views on the puff adder, where most other snakes will get out of your way as you say the puff adder is just too lazy! I am not very fond of mambas either, they are too fast for you to get out of the way!!

    Your photos are amazing, I have seen the results of a puff adder bite before, not nice :(

    I will happily have Nadine around the house keeping down the mice population she is beautiful.

  4. New year wishes to you and yours for 2011, I hope it is happy and productive.
    Love the pics but not the content, I would hate to see any of those close enough to identify!

  5. Thanks Diane - Mambas are awesome but scary, especially when they stand up with their heads erect ...

    Yeah, Nadine is gorgeous hey ... :)

  6. Thank you Peggy - and best wishes to you.

    ... hehe, yeah well, you guys are lucky - you had St Patrick who dealt them hey?

  7. C-c-c-an I c-c-c-ome out from under my ch-ch-ch-air now?
    As the Irish would say - Jeesus Mother and Joseph...
    (Uh, just for the record, I'm not a MENTAL coward...)

  8. Hehe Caroline ... hiss! ... I think it's safe to come out now ...

  9. The price of living in eden...whats that brown powder on Stretches thumb?

  10. Hehe Monica - yes, I did consider calling this post 'Footless in Paradise' .. or something like that ...

    I'm surprised you noticed that brown powder - Stretch's girlfriend at the time was a Mexican lady who was into natural and herbal healing ... the powder was some 'muti' she gave him ...

  11. OMG (scream, run, hide, fart, belch)!

  12. Eish- nice pics ...but eish!!

  13. hehe Dave ... it's no use screaming - besides being footless, they're also earless ... beware of farting though, they can smell you with their tongues ... :)

  14. Hehe, thanks Laurie - I think you echo the sentiments of the majority ...

  15. Man that thumb looks horrid! We have puffies here too but mostly come across the black mamba and cape spitting cobra. They tend to stay away from the house though which is a good thing :)

  16. Wonderful photos!

    I have a bit of a soft spot for snakes, having cared for and handled some very gentle (and non-venomous) snakes. I think I would keep a respectful distance from a few of these beauties, though!

  17. ... yeah Stretch's thumb did look terrible - you can see how well it healed from the pic where he's holding the mole snake ...

  18. Thanks for the visit and comment Jen ... it's been awhile since I've heard from you - best wishes for the new year ...

    lol, yeah it is wise to be cautious - I was bitten once because of a 'macho' attitude ...

  19. Thanks to my friend Rachael and her animal education program (she has a lot of reptiles) I have learned about snakes and grown quite fond of them. However, you can keep that puff adder and the last egg eating one.--Inger

  20. good thing I didn't read this too close to dinner. That thumb looks awful. I imagine the skin had to replace itself many times before the thumb could move well.

  21. Yeah Inger, - most snakes that come into contact with humans here are killed immediately - the best response is to educate people as to which are dangerous and which are not ...

  22. Yeah lisleman - it was a long healing process ...

  23. Wow. Great photos. Your sacrifice of chickens in return for such nice pictures is appreciated. But what made you change from gun-toting to camera toting?

  24. Thanks lgsquirrel - yeah, I find that the older I get the more I appreciate the uniqueness of each living creature and the less I am inclined to kill anything ...

    ... to be sure, if there were kids playing around where the snake was or if I felt otherwise threatened I would have no hesitation in shooting it ...

  25. Lovely photos!
    I'm not a huge fan of snakes; but we did have a Brown House Snake come visit us:

    She turned out to be an Eastern Cape record!

  26. Thanks Tara - and thanks for the link - what a beautiful specimen and the size!!! ... did it give birth?

    I also love the Egg Eaters.

  27. I love all these snakes! I want to come to your country so much to see and learn about the animals that live there!

  28. Beautiful photos! I live in Ohio, USA and we dont have any venomous indigeonous snakes. I love them all.

    1. Thanks for your visit and comment Cicil - if you make it to Namibia, please let me know ...