Amazing Camouflage …

Today I had a great sighting of a Vine Snake at Pakamisa Private Game Reserve. This small specimen was quite relaxed and made for an excellent photo model :-).

Slight excitement …
Getting a taste …
Moving around …
Amazing camouflage …

Pictures 1/2/3 – taken with a Canon 1D Mark IV and a 28-300mm lens
Pictures 4/5 – taken with an iPhone 7Plus

Double Release!

Removing a snake from a place where it should not be can be a tricky business. And if the snake is a Black Mambas then it gets extra exciting.

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Yesterday, I caught the largest Black Mamba I have ever seen (see video 1). This beautiful specimen was rather calm during the capture. I released it this morning in a remote part of the reserve.


And then midday today I was called to catch another of these fast moving snakes. This one was more ‘feisty’ and was quite agitated during the capture and the release (see video 2).

But in the end everything went well and both snakes can establish their new homes far away from people and buildings 🙂

The picture credits for today go to Letishia Kleinschmidt and Jennie Pretorius. Thanks a lot. My favorite shot of today is Jennie’s picture of a ‘Black Mamba Selfie’ :-).

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A ‘cool’ snake!

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Sal (on Facebook) was the first to get the correct answer. We found this Puff Adder at Thanda House under a stack of fire wood. Due to the cold temperature it was very slow and did not react at all when Letishia took a piece of wood from the pile and discovered the snake.

I captured it and relocated it this morning away from Thanda House. After the release it took a few minutes before this incredibly camouflaged sake moved into the undergrowth.

Puff Adders are one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. They have a very potent cytotoxic venom and are one of the fastest-striking snakes on earth. Due to the relatively low temperatures at this time of the year this specimen showed no aggression and could be handled quite easily.

This series of pictures were taken by Warren Beets (Thanda Reserve Manager) and myself during the release operation. Thanks Warren!

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This picture shows me transferring the Puff Adder from the transport barrel to nice spot on the ground (near some undergrowth). 20150905 - CS1_0889 - E

Placing it on the ground 20150905 - CS1_0894 - E

Just in front of my GoPro camera 20150905 - CS1_0883 - E

This is the release from the GoPro angle 20150905 - CS8_1049 - E

And then the snake disappeared into the bush 20150905 - CS1_0897 - E


An “unhappy” snake!

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I usually do not like to anthropomorphize animals but this Southern Vine Snake gave the appearance of being “unhappy”. Close to shedding its skin it was moving slowly through a tree as we spotted the snake. When I got a bit closer to take some pictures it obviously felt a bit threatened (for a short while). It inflated its neck to display the bright skin between the scales to impress its opponent. It work for me :-). This slender snake has a very bright orange tongue with a black tip.

Vine Snakes are rather shy and usually very relaxed. As with the Boomslang the chance of getting bitten is quite low. Its venom is highly haemotoxic and if a bite is not treated quickly it can be fatal. There is no anti-venom available.

It was the first time I was able to get images of this shy neighbor. What a great day!

PS: The eyes of this Vine Snake look “clouded” as it was close to skin shedding time.

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The last captures in 2014!

In the last two days I captured and released two more snakes on the reserve. First a Mozambique Spitting Cobra was spotted around Thanda house. I capture the young snake and released it near one of Thanda’s waterholes, far away from Thanda house. The goggles I wear in the picture are just a precaution, in case the Cobra should choose to spit in its defense. This youngster only spat at my snake stick during the capture. The collage shows the release of the snake.

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This image shows my snake handling gear and my snake barrel. In this picture the Cobra was inside the barrel, ready for the drive to its new home.

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The second release and capture was of a young Puff Adder. It had hidden under a staff vehicle in the parking lot of Thanda’s base camp. For its own safety and the safety of the many people walking around that area we decided to catch the snake and release her in a safe distance away from the camp. This first collage shows the capture operation…

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… the second collages shows the release of this shy reptile.

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The images were taken by Magdel Geldenhuys, Letishia Kleinschmidt (thanks!) and my GoPro.

Reptile Rainbow

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Just before I left the USA I had the opportunity to photograph one of the most beautiful creatures I have ever seen – and it was a snake!

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This Boelen’s Python had just shed. During the photo shoot in the bright Nashville sun all the rainbow colors appeared on skin.

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Besides being a great model this specimen is also great to handle – she rested calmly around my chest as I brought her back to her living space 🙂

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A little beauty!

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This small Spotted Bush Snake lives in the trees outside my room at Thanda house. On warm and sunny days this little beauty is hunting in the trees. And when anyone walks by it takes a peak from between the leaves.

I enjoyed taking some macro pictures of this small predator.

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More about the Spotted Bush Snake:
(Philothamnus semivariegatus) – also called Variegated Bush Snake.
This snake can be found in variable colors, but most of the time bright green to darker green above. Adults can reach up to 1,3 meters in length. It is diurnal and it is an excellent climber. When this snake is disturbed, it will move away fast. If it turns defensive, it will inflate the neck and the blue skin in between the scales will be visible. This makes it look more dangerous, almost like a Boomslang.  It is often mistaken for a Boomslang. This snake bites readily when trying to catch it. Although there are many differences, they both can be seen in trees and both are green. The Spotted Bush Snake is harmless to humans, but often killed, because of this confusion.
Quoted from “Snakes of South Africa”

A difficult meal!

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Bheki Ngubane – my tracker at Thanda – is driving with other guides when I am working on various special projects for Thanda.  So, a few weeks ago I bought Bheki a small Canon point-and-shoot camera just in case he gets a good sighting when driving without me (and my cameras :-).

Well, that was a good decision. Yesterday, while on an evening game drive with Thanda guests, Bheki and field guide Cela Manyanga spotted an incredible scene.

A very large African Rock Python had killed an adult Impala and was busy swallowing this large herbivore. The snake was still working on the Impala when the last game drive vehicle had left the scene. A very exciting sighting for all Thanda guests!

A great image – well done Bheki!

More about the African Rock Python …

The African Rock Python (Python sebae), is a large, nonvenomous snake of Sub-Saharan Africa. It is one of seven species in the genus Python. Africa’s largest snake and one of the five largest snake species in the world may approach 6 m (20 ft). The snake is found in a variety of habitats, from forests to near deserts, although usually near sources of water. The African rock python kills its prey by constriction and often eats animals up to the size of antelope 🙂 ! The snake is widely feared even though it very rarely kills humans. Although the snake is not endangered, it does face threats from habitat reduction and hunting.

Picture by Bheki Ngubane – Thanda Private Game Reserve

From store room to freedom!

Watch the video at

This morning I had to “rescue” a Mozambique Spitting Cobra. This snake had lost her way into one of Thanda store rooms. Someone spotted it disappearing behind a cabinet in the room.

Lodge management called me to capture the snake and to remove it to a new home. First I had to empty out the cabinet (hundreds of cans and bottles :-)) to be able to move it and to get to the snake hidden behind.

Once the cabinet was out of the way the Cobra did, what Cobras do. It opened it’s hood and made hizzing sounds to scare me away. I used a “snake grabbing stick” to capture it (20 cm behind the head) and carried it out of the room holding it also by its tail.

Once safely lodged in a special snake barrel I drove the snake to one of Thanda’s waterholes. Thanks to Jarred Glasson, Thanda’s Head Guide, I have some images of me releasing the snake at its new home!

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More about Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica)…

It is native to Africa. The average length of adults is between 90cm – 105cm (3-3½ feet). This species prefers localities near water, to which it will readily take when disturbed. It is considered one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa. It can spit its venom. Its bite causes severe local tissue destruction. Venom to the eyes can also cause impaired vision or blindness. This cobra’s diet mainly consists of amphibians, other snakes, birds, eggs, small mammals, and even insects occasionally. This snake is nervous and highly strung. When confronted at close quarters it can rear up to as much as two-thirds of its length, spread its long narrow hood and will readily “spit” in defense, usually from a reared-up position. By doing this the venom can be ejected at a distance of 2-3 metres (6½-10 feet), with remarkable accuracy. The spitting cobra does bite depending on its environment and the situation it is in, and also feigns death to avoid further molestation.

Catching and Releasing a Mozambique Spitting Cobra!

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Well, a lot of you got it right! (see previous blog

I use these goggles when catching or releasing spitting snakes (or if I do know which snake I might encounter). In this case I caught a Mozambique Spitting Cobra (in Zulu:Mfezi) which had strayed into a room at Thanda house late at night.  Today I released it onto another part of the reserve.

This collage of images shows the release of the snake. Thanks to Warren Beets for taking the pictures (I could not take any myself – I was busy :-))

PS: I will add a GoPro camera to my equipment set so I can record these sort of procedures on video – from my view-point.