The boomslang (dispholidus typus) has the most potent venom of any African snake. Luckily it is a shy snake that seldom accounts for bites in humans. It is largely tree-living, but may descend to the ground to bask or hunt.
“It is a popular fallacy that being back-fanged it can only bite onto a small digit – this is incorrect as it can open its mouth very wide and easily bite onto an arm or leg,” said manager of the African Snakebite Institute, Ashley Kemp.
These snakes vary dramatically in colour, with hatchlings and juveniles, being grey in colour with massive emerald green eyes.
“They change to the adult colours at around 1m. Most adult males are bright green, sometimes with black between the scales and females are mostly olive-brown to grey in colour. Adults may exceed 2m in length. The boomslang are active hunters and prey on chameleons and other tree dwelling lizards, birds, nestlings, eggs and frogs. The venom of this snake is haemotoxic and compromises the blood clotting mechanism, causing uncontrolled bleeding if not treated. It is slow-acting and victims have ample time to get to a hospital. The South African Vaccine Producers manufacture a monovalent antivenom for boomslang bites that is very effective.”
This article was republished from Southcoast Sun with permission