5 of Southern Africa’s Deadliest & Most Dangerous Snakes

by Sandy Salle on February 26, 2013

Post image for 5 of Southern Africa’s Deadliest & Most Dangerous Snakes

Image to the left of a black mamba, taken from the National Geographic website

Lurking in the African bush are some of the world’s most deadliest predators. In South Africa, there are more than 130 species of snakes found, with only a dozen of these reptiles considered potentially deadly.

Before exploring some of southern Africa’s most deadliest snakes, it’s first important to point out that snakes will not simply attack out of nowhere. Rather, snakes attack when threatened, defending themselves if they feel harmed.

Below are spotlights on some of southern Africa’s most dangerous snakes:

Black Mamba: Considered the most dangerous snake in the world, the black mamba can be found in the Eastern Cape, Kwazulu Natal, Swaziland, and Mozambique. Specifically, the black mamba lives in rocky outcrops and savannahs and can reach up to 14-feet long and move at speeds of up to 12 mph . . .

The black mamba is aptly named for the interior of its mouth, which is black (similar to the cottonmouth snake, named after the white interior of its mouth). The black mamba’s body color is a deep, olive green / gray color.

When threatened or cornered, the black mamba will often lash out on its victim numerous times, introducing neurotoxic venom to its victim. This venom can cause the victim to experience paralysis and other affects on the nervous system, including vomiting, sweating, and blurred vision.

If bitten, a victim should seek immediate medical assistance as a black mamba bite can prove deadly at least four hours after a bite (there have been reports of bites that have caused death within one hour).

Cape Cobra: Similar to the black mamba, the Cape cobra is considered highly venomous and contains neurotoxic venom that affects its victims’ nervous systems. Found throughout Botswana, Namibia, and the Cape region of South Africa, this orange-yellow snake can reach slightly about 5.5 feet in length. The Cape cobra is active during the day and can be found slithering up trees in search of its prey, which include other snakes, birds, eggs, and reptiles. The main predators that the Cape cobra must face in the wild include the mongoose and honey badger. 

Image above of a Cape Cobra taken from FactZoo.com

Boomslang: The boomslang’s venom is Africa’s deadliest. However, the boomslang usually does not release enough of its venom to cause death. When bitten the boomslang’s venom affects the blood, making it difficult for the victim’s blood to clot. If left untreated, a bite can potentially lead to internal bleeding and death. Symptoms can take up to a full day to appear in the victim.

And with vibrant green scales, the boomslang is by far one of the prettiest snakes in Africa. It can be found in semi-desert environments and other dry areas throughout southern Africa. These snakes can reach up to 5-feet long and can often be found in trees, searching for bird nests.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra: As an active night predator, the Mozambique spitting cobra’s diet primarily consists of other reptiles and snakes, as well as birds and small animals.

The Mozambique spitting cobra is one of the most unique predators as it can spray its venom up to 8-feet away! Because this spitting snake often aims for its victim’s eyes, this snake has been known to cause blindness in its targets.

Image above of the Mozambique spitting cobra taken from the National Geographic website

Snouted Cobra: Reaching a whopping six-feet in length, the snouted cobra is one of Africa’s largest and most dangerous snakes. This intimidating snake can be found in rocky and dry, semi-desert areas of Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Namibia.

During the day, the snouted cobra can be found soaking in some rays atop termite mounds and rocks, but at night, it is a fearsome predator on the prowl for small rodents, birds, snakes, and other reptiles.

The snouted cobra’s venom is quite potent and can cause dire affects to its victims’ nervous systems.

How to protect yourself against snake bites while on African safari tours in the bush:

* It’s important to employ a knowledgable safari guide whenever you go out into Africa’s wilderness. He / she will be aware of areas that can potentially house snakes and will guide you on where to walk and where not to walk. It’s also important to wear high socks and ankle-covering shoes whenever you are in areas that have known snake populations (it’s important to note that you will not be brought into areas that are considered dangerous by your guide).

* Avoid walking in areas with poor ground visibility, including areas with tall grass and thick brush.

* Avoid touching, picking up, or tampering with any type of snake, even if you think it’s not venomous. Go in the other direction!

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