Behind our backs

While we were engrossed watching the Crocodiles ambushing the Impalas at Masuma dam, lots of things were taking place around us. On the first day there, a snake was coming down exactly where my wife was sitting at the viewing platform! To say that she does not like snakes is an understatement, so she moved out of the snake’s possible path rather fast! I did not make things better when I identified it as a possible Boomslang!

A couple of days later, while focusing on the waters-edge going ons, one of the Picnic Attendants called our attention to another snake act! This time they were two snakes, similar to the one seen before. Their behaviour indicated that they were mating. Basically the process involved the two snakes sliding together throughout the viewing platform as one, the female? moving away while the other one, the male? tried to come into contact with her. Once that was achieved they started to shiver and twist around each other.

First view of snakes outside 2

The snakes moving in.

snakes inside

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Picture by Tom Milliken.

The process took about 30 minutes during which they were in command of the viewing platform as the human occupants were always at the opposite end, keeping an eye on their movements. The latter were rather fast and, as we suspected them to be the dangerous Boomslangs, there was no time for jokes while giving them a wide berth. At one stage they were mating at the door and several people were seen to leave the platform through any possible exit in order to get things from their cars or go to the toilet.

close up inside

Eventually their courtship took them outside and they were last seen twisting in a nearby tree.

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They finally moved outside. Picture by Tom Milliken.

If such a thing as “relief post factum” exists, we need not have worried as, with the benefit of time and a good snake guide, they were identified as a pair of the slender Spotted Bush Snakes (Philothamnus semivariegatus). They are a rather common and harmless snake endemic to Africa that feed on lizards, tree frogs and geckos.

In light of this excitement, I promised myself to add an extra kg to our already heavy camping gear and include the snake book in the future!


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