Green Snakes of the Eastern Cape

This list includes all the green snakes that can be found in the Eastern Cape. Barring the boomslang (Dispholidus typus), all the individuals listed come from the genus Philothamnus and they are all closely related. Although the many-spotted snake (Amplorhinus multimaculatus) can be found in the Eastern Cape, it has not been included on this list because not all individuals in this species are green, some are olive-brown. In the Eastern Cape, the boomslang  is not unifrom green. Females are olive and males are green/yellow with black barring. Irrespective of this, the boomslang has been included at the end of the list.

Green Water Snake (Philothamnus hoplogaster)

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Size: 50-90cm.

Habits: This snake is a fantastic swimmer that spends much of its time in and around water. Although closely related with water sources, it can also be found basking in trees and low bushes. Green water snakes also tend to be active during the day.

Diet: Fish, lizards and frogs.

Danger to man: None, it has no venom.

Similar species: This snake is easily confused with all members of the Philothamnus genus (green snakes).

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Spotted-Bush Snake (Philothamnus semivariegatus)

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Size: 40-90cm.

Habits: This snake is an excellent climber and can be found almost exclusively in trees and shrubs where it hunts during the day for its food.

Diet: Lizards, chameleons, geckoes, and frogs.

Danger to man: None, it has no venom.

Similar species: This snake is easily confused with all members of the Philothamnus genus (green snakes). In terms of Grahamstown however, This snake is most easily confused with the western natal green snake, a snake which is far more common than the spotted bush snake in the area.

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Western Natal Green Snake (Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis)

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Size: 60-90cm.

Habits: This snake is a fantastic climber that spends much of its time in trees and shrubs near water. Western natal green snakes also tend to be active during the day.

Diet: Lizards, geckos and frogs.

Danger to man: None, it has no venom.

Similar species: This snake is easily confused with all members of the Philothamnus genus (green snakes). In terms of Grahamstown however, This snake is most easily confused with the spotted bush snake, but the spotted bush snake is far less common in the area.

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Female Boomslang (Dispholidus typus) from the Eastern CapeIMG_7015

Size: 1.2-1.5m.

Habits: Diurnal snakes which are found in a large variety of habitats, most commonly in trees and shrubs, but may descend to the floor to bask or find food.

Diet: Chameleons, frogs, tree-living lizards, birds and occasionally rodents.

Danger to man: The boomslang possesses a very dangerous haemotoxic venom capable of killing people. Monovalent antivenom is however available and has been found to be very effective in counteracting the venom. Although dangerous, the snake rarely bites, with most bites being received from snake handlers. There is a big misconception that boomslangs cannot inject venom on larger body parts because they are back-fanged. This is however untrue as boomslangs can open their mouth’s 170 degrees and can thus easily inject venom into a leg or an arm. Due to the placid and shy nature of this snake, there is virtually no chance of simply walking past a tree and being bitten.

Similar species: Boomslangs are easily confused with green mambas and members of the genus Philothamnus (green snakes) north of the Transkei because of the uniform green colour but in eastern Cape males tend to be more of a fluorescent green and females tend to be brown.

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