Friend or Foe?
As a guide having worked in the Eastern and Western Cape provinces of South Africa, I have learned to respect animals, especially snakes. Snakes are best viewed from a safe distance which will ensure it is not disturbed or harmed.
During the past year the most commonly seen snake while driving, hiking, visiting National Parks and at home has been the Boomslang/ Dispholidus typus.
On one typical sunny afternoon, I looked over my balcony to scan the now flowering Strelitzia in my garden expecting to see some sunbird activity when I suddenly spotted movement in the tree. I got a quick glance of a brownish body of what looked like a snake moving in the tree so I grabbed my camera and rushed downstairs to see if I could get a better view of the creature.
Usually when I have seen a Boomslang it has been a quick sighting, however, this young female was very happy to be observed as she slithered in an out of the green stems of the Strelitzia. I was amazed at how fast she could move in and around a tree ,one minute she was gone and then would suddenly pop out right in front of me!
As she slithered towards the base of the plant I saw a quick flash of movement and a Marble Leaf-Toed Gecko jumped out and proceeded to hang upside down on one of the Strelitzia’s stems; I noticed was that its tail was missing!
Geckos are known to release their tail as a form of distraction to the predator. However, the snake was not fooled and after swallowing the tail, it continued to slither in and out of the Strelitzia in search of the gecko. Suddenly the snake reappeared and the gecko took a leap of faith and darted for the Wild Jasmine next to the Strelitzia, but the Boomslang was to fast! The snake shot out of the Strelitzia and grabbed the Gecko in the centre of its body and proceeded to eat it.
After the meal the Boomslang disappeared into a Wild Jasmine bush.
What to learn about this snake.
The Boomslang is a as a highly venomous snake, possessing haemotoxic venom which prevents the blood from clotting.
The Boomslang is generally a placid snake and most people that have been bitten or killed have been handling the snake.
If it head is puffed up and looks abnormal, this is a warning! Stay clear!
Remember the Boomslang is a predator and would probably prefer to eat rodents, birds and lizards than you, and if you kill it, another predator could take its place which might not be so friendly.