Snakes of Durban- a photographic guide

The Greater Durban Area is home to a wide range of snake species. Some highly venomous, some completely harmless. Here’s a photographic guide which may help you in identifying these species.

Remember! If you see a snake in your garden, or in the wild, appreciate the lucky sighting and enjoy it! But never approach the snake, to kill or catch it. Leave them alone to play their part in the food chain.

If you want such info up on your classroom wall, or in your work place, or even just on your fridge, then here’s something which will be of great use to you- a common snakes of Durban poster! This beautiful poster was designed by Jonathan Leeming, (Scorpion man, speaker and author). This is now the second poster we’ve sent out, the first one going out to schools (especially in rural areas). Please feel free to print and share it!

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Snake removals in the Greater Durban Area: Nick Evans-072 809 5806

All photos have been taken by Nick Evans (C)

 

Highly Venomous Species

 

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Black Mamba- Highly venomous. A large snake, averaging 2,2m-2,5m in length. Not the aggressive killers that they’re made out to be. Very shy and nervous, and will always flee if given half a chance. Common in valley areas. Mainly feeds on rodents and dassies (hyrax).

 

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Green Mamba- Highly venomous. Restricted to the KZN coastline. Can get quite large and are a beautiful, plain emerald green colour. Not often seen, and are shy like its cousin. Feeds on birds, rodents and lizards.

 

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Mozambique Spitting Cobra, aka ‘Mfezi’ – Highly venomous. Plain brown on top, with orange and black bands underneath the neck region. Usually a salmon-pink colour underneath. Can spray its venom 2-3m, so don’t get too close! Feeds on toads, rats and sometimes other snakes.

 

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Vine/Twig Snake- Highly venomous. Very common, but rarely seen, for obvious reasons! Bites are very rare. Feed on chameleons, other lizards, smaller snakes (such as bush snakes) and nestling birds.

 

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Male Boomslang- Highly venomous. Males are a beautiful green colour with black bands. Feeds on nestling birds, chameleons and other lizards. May take small rodents.

 

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Female Boomslang- Highly venomous Females are light brown in colour. Can resemble a mamba. Boomslang have almost have a rugby ball-shaped head, with large eyes, unlike the mamba with a more slender head.

 

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Juvenile Boomslang- Highly venomous That big green eye is very distinctive! All juveniles look like this upon hatching, and change colour as they grow.

 

Puff Adder- Highly venomous Found more inland of Durban, as well as North and South of Durban. Common in the Midlands, Drakensberg and Zululand. Feeds mainly on rodents, but also eats toads.
Puff Adder- Highly venomous Found more inland of Durban, as well as North and South of Durban. Common in the Midlands, Drakensberg and Zululand. Feeds mainly on rodents, but also eats toads.

 

Venomous, but not lethal species. Lethal or not lethal, don’t mess with them!

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Stiletto Snake- Venomous. A small, innocent-looking snake which people often pick up. Do not pick up any snake! This is snake you do not want to get bitten by! Feeds on other fossorial (ground dwelling) reptiles.

 

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Rhombic or Common Night Adder- Venomous The most commonly encountered venomous snake in Durban. Quite easy to identify with it’s brown (sometimes grey) colour with dark diamond-shaped markings on the back. Often seen feasting on their favourite food- toads!

 

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Natal Black Snake- Venomous. Although it does possess a venom, which little is known about (other than it’s not life-threatening), it is very reluctant to bite. Could be mistaken for the Stiletto Snake, so don’t touch. Feeds on frogs, lizards and rodents.

 

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Short-snouted Grass Snake. Has a mild venom, which mostly has no effect on humans (may cause a slight burning sensation and very mild swelling, but generally nothing). An incredibly fast-moving snake! Feeds on rodents and lizards.

 

Harmless species

 

Spotted Bush Snake- Harmless. The most common snake in the area.
Spotted Bush Snake- Harmless. The most common snake in the area.

 

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Eastern Natal Green Snake- Harmless. Very similar to Spotted Bush Snake, but usually has less black markings and a brighter yellow belly. Feeds on lizards and frogs.

 

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Green Water Snake- Harmless. Similar to Natal Green & Spotted Bush Snake, but the Green Water Snake is plain green with a white belly. Feeds on lizards and frogs.

 

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Brown House Snake- Harmless Brown snake with cream-coloured stripes running down the body. Nature’s free, and harmless to humans, rat control!

 

Spotted Rock/House Snake - Harmless Relatively common in the Upper Highway Area, in rocky cliff areas.
Spotted Rock/House Snake – Harmless Relatively common in the Upper Highway Area, in rocky cliff areas. Feeds mainly on lizards, but may also take small rodents and nestling birds.

 

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Olive House/Ground Snake – Harmless. Not commonly seen. Feeds on rodents and lizards.

 

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Brown Water Snake (Ivuzamanzi in Zulu)- Harmless. Very common around ponds and dams where they hunt frogs. They also feed on small rodents, lizards and even fish.

 

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Southern African Python, also known as the Rock Python. Non venomous, but can give a painful bite. This snake is becoming increasingly rare due to poaching, despite it being a protected species. Feed on numerous species of small mammals, and often take livestock (chickens, goats).

 

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Herald Snake – Harmless (has a mild venom which has no effect on humans). Very common. Head is darker than the rest of body, often with white speckles. Sometimes has an orange lip. Likes to put on a ‘scary’ display to frighten you off. Feeds on frogs.

 

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Common Centipede-eater – Harmless, but does possess a mild venom. Very small, thin snakes. Black head is very distinctive. I don’t need to tell you what this little snake feeds on!

 

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Common Wolf Snake – Harmless. The white speckling underneath is quite distinctive. Usually smaller than half-a-meter in length. Feeds on skinks.

 

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Southern Brown Egg-eater – Harmless. Bird breeders won’t like these snakes!

 

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Bibron’s Blind Snake – Harmless. Looks a bit like a giant earthworm! Feeds on termite and ant larvae.

 

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Thread Snake – Harmless. As a friend once said, it looks like pencil lead that wriggles. Feeds on small invertebrates, such as termites.

SNAKE REMOVALS IN GREATER DURBAN AREA

NICK EVANS- 072 809 5806