Boomslang

Dispholidus typus

The highly venomous but rather shy Boomslang (Afrikaans for “Treesnake”) occurs in parts of all South Africa’s provinces, occupying fynbos, savanna, thicket and forest habitats. It is also widely distributed over much of the rest of sub-Saharan Africa.

The Boomslang is diurnal, arboreal and very agile, hunting by sight for chameleons, lizards, geckos, frogs, small mammals and small birds. When threatened, a Boomslang will inflate its throat and strike out at the attacker (see photos in gallery below). Their venom is a potent haemotoxin, delivered in extremely small doses of between 1 and 15mg, breaking down blood components, preventing blood from clotting and causing hemorrhages into the body tissues and externally. While it may be a slow-acting venom in these small doses, drop for drop it is the most potent venom of any African snake, and without prompt treatment with antivenom and blood transfusions a Boomslang envenomation of just 1mg will kill an adult human within 1-3 days. Thankfully a Boomslang will much rather retreat than bite when crossing paths with a human, and left unmolested a bite from one is highly unlikely to occur.

Boomslange mate in spring, with females laying clutches of up to 30 eggs in holes in trees, burrows in the ground or in heaps of dead leaves about 60 days later. The eggs hatch about 3 months after being laid, with the newly hatched babies measuring about 25cm. Adults measure up to 2m long and can weigh up to half a kilogram. Males are far more colourful than the females.

Now, for a bit of a tongue-in-cheek Public Service Announcement: If ever you visit South Africa, and in the unlikely event of being bitten by a Boomslang, then be sure to pronounce the name correctly, as can be heard in this very interesting video,Β when you arrive at the hospital. Pronouncing it as the two English words “BOOM” and “SLANG” (as in this horrible tutorial), especially with an ominous tone in your voice, will cause your nursing staff to start laughing uncontrollably and delay your rescue until they’ve been able to compose themselves…

 

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42 thoughts on “Boomslang

  1. perdebytjie

    Fantastiese foto’s, Dries! Veral die een waar hy die voΓ«l aanval en die een waar sy bek so opgeblaas is. Het hy die voΓ«l gevang? Interessante video en sowaar slegte uitspraak in die ander video.

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  2. Joanne Sisco

    I have to pretend to have actually read this without looking at any of the photos {shudder!}
    My aversion to snakes is still rigidly intact! There are certain advantages to living in a cold environment πŸ˜‰

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      Gelukkig spuit hulle n baie klein hoeveelheid gif in, so selfs al is jy baie diep in die gramadoelas kan jy betyds dit tot by n hospitaal maak. Ongelukkig vat dit lank voor simptome wys, so baie mense neem aan dat hul n “droe” byt gekry het, en teen die tyd wat die bloed dan by hul ore, neus, oe en wat nog begin uitloop is hulle te ver van die hulp af wat hulle op daardie stadium dringend en dadelik nodig het.

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  3. Jane Lurie

    Wow. I wouldn’t want to run into one. That action shot with the bird is harrowing. I laughed at your tutorial on pronunciation….wouldn’t want them laughing as the venom runs through my body! 😳😁

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  4. naturebackin

    How interesting to see the encounter with the boubou and I see from the previous post on this that the bird drove the snake off. Hard not to feel sorry for a hungry snake but I should think you must have been relieved for the bird? Your photo of the boomslang inflating it’s neck is amazing.

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    1. de Wets Wild Post author

      I find snakes fascinating, Deb, and if they’re not going to feel cornered I will move in for a closer look – but I’m certainly not going to try and touch it and thus spoil my holiday! πŸ˜€

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  5. anotherday2paradise

    A fascinating video and a hilarious tutorial. 🀣 Those boomslang babies are quite long already. I suppose they must curl up inside the eggs. How big are the eggs? Thanks for another really informative post, Dries. πŸ‘πŸ»

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