Howard Langley of Clovelly sent us these photos that he snapped a few years back of a Boomslang feasting on a baby Red-eyed Dove in his garden. He says that “despite their bite being very venomous, they are a shy back-fanged species that are very unlikely to bite unless you try and handle them ……I stand under correction, but I don’t think anyone other than for the odd snake handler, has ever been bitten by a Boomslang in South Africa.”
We appeal once more that if you find a snake in your garden you do not kill it, but instead call Shaun Boddington of the Reptile Park in Kommetjie to remove it. Shaun’s contact numbers are 021 783 0547 or 079 522 7408
Of all the snakes in South Africa Boomslangs have the greatest colour variation. Identifying features are its huge eyes on a short stubby head, and strongly keeled dorsal scales. It may inflate its neck and most of its body when severely provoked.
It is a diurnal snake spending most of its time in trees and shrubs. It is shy and unobtrusive and well camouflaged when in foliage. The Boomslang does come ‘off its tree’ to feed on the ground, especially along streams and rivers.
The neck of the Boomslang can inflate to twice its size and once the entire body is inflated it will strike sideways and forward in a jerky manner. It is a fallacy that the snake will drop out of a tree and strike anyone walking underneath it! Its mouth can open to 170 degrees and can inflict a bite on a person’s arm or leg.
Its enemies include birds of prey and other snakes. Bubuls often mob it, signaling its presence. In turn, it feeds on chameleons, lizards, birds, eggs and frogs.
The Boomslang is oviparous, laying 8-14 eggs in late spring to mid-summer in hollow tree trunks and logs and under leaf litter.
The Boomslang’s venom is extremely haemotoxic, causing severe internal bleeding, which may be fatal if left untreated. The venom is slow acting and may take 24-48 hours to produce serious symptoms.
Source: A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa by Johan Marais.