Stiletto Snake - Atractaspis bibronii

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Photo W. Haacke

Average Length: 50 cm Names in other languages
Afrikaans: Suidelike Sypikslang
Look for:
  • Uniform purple-brown to black back colour
  • Head pointed, indistinct from body
  • Tail ends in sharp spike
  • Snake can not be held safely (you will believe this when you are bitten)


Distribution


Venom Type: Neurotoxic. Although venom causes normal blood poison symptoms it is seldom fatal if first-aid treatment is given immediately. Intense local pain, swelling and necrosis (rare) are symptoms.


First Aid

If sure of snake's identity, get victim to a doctor or hospital where bite must be treated symptomatically. Painkillers will be necessary. 

 See First-aid procedures.

Habits

This snake emerges on warm wet summer evenings especially after heavy rains. If molested, this snake jerks about convulsively, arches its neck, head pointing downwards and attempts to burrow into the ground. It is best not to disturb these snakes as they bites readily. To inject venom into its prey it protrudes a fang , moves its head over its prey and stabs downwards. Cannot be held safely (hence the Afrikaans name which means "side striking") and most bites are to snake handlers.

Food

Frogs,  and small rodents.

Reproduction

Oviparous. Lays 3-7 eggs in summer, young measure up to 15cm in length.

Enemies

Other snakes.

Habitat

A burrowing specie found in deserted termite mounds, under rotting logs or beneath sun-warmed rocks in lowland forest and both moist and arid savanna.

 

 

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