Spotted Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus)

With the end of winter drawing close, the anticipation of a facelift for the bush in general is the main talking point at the moment. As the temperatures are slowly increasing, our cold blooded friends are starting to show face, with an increasing amount of “snake trails” that can be seen crossing the roads and one or two of our resident snakes around the lodge peeping their heads out of their crevices where they had been laying dormant for the winter.

The most common of these is the Spotted Bush snake. It is a harmless snake (well at least to humans) because it does not have any venom glands. This arboreal (tree living) snake employs a different method of catching its prey. The Spotted Bush snake is a constrictor, this means that the snake keeps dead still and waits patiently for an unwary skink or frog to pass by; it then lashes out at the speed of light and catches the prey item with a mouth full of needle sharp teeth. The prey item is then encircled by the coiling motion of the snake’s body, which clinches tighter and tighter every time the prey exhales. It is only a matter of time before the inevitable is achieved and the prey is swallowed whole, usually with the head first to avoid one of the limbs causing a blockage.
This method of catching prey is also employed by Southern Africa’s largest snake, the African Rock Python which can get up to 6meters.

The Spotted bush snake is a very pretty snake; it is a bright green color with black dots from the head all the way down the body for about two thirds of the body length. The last section of the snake towards the tail fades from a bright green to a blue/purple color.

Story by Riaan (River Lodge)
2013/09/24



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