Next Gen Herpetologist

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A few weeks back I performed two back-to-back snake talks at Victoria Girls High School with Luke Kemp. The aim of the talks were to expose  the Grade 11 students of the all-girl high school to the wonders of the reptile world. The talk, that ran for 30 minutes, consisted of general information about Grahamstown reptile diversity, followed by information pertaining to snake biology, taxonomy and snakebite awareness. The presentation was capped-off… Read More

This list contains all the water snakes that can be found in and around water in the Grahamstown area. As the names suggest, this means that these snakes are usually found in close proximity to water because of their diets that mostly consist of frogs, tadpoles and fish. Although not as closely related to water as the other snakes on this list, the red-lipped herald has been listed at the end because it is closely associated with… Read More

Once again I found myself in Hogsback, and this time I was determined to catch and photograph (properly) the Amatola Flat Gecko (Afroedura amatolica). This trip to Hogsback was however not intended for herping or adventure but rather as a farewell for the Rhodes Zoology Honours class of 2016 who were staying on a nearby Hogsback farm for the weekend. Unlike my classmates who sought to study in the spare time between… Read More

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

Western Natal Green Snake (Philothamnus natelensis occidentalis) Family: Colubridae. Scientific name: Philothamnus natalensis occidentalis (Broadley, 1966). Other name: Natal green snake. Size: 60-90cm, but can be as long as 130cm. Diet: Frogs, lizards and especially geckos. Description: Slender snake with a well-defined head, black eyes and round pupils. The body is Bright green to turquoise on top with a yellowish-white belly. The head and tail are usually turquoise green. Number of young:… Read More

This weekend saw Luke and I on the road again. This time we traveled to a far more magical place – Hogsback, the home of fairies, hobbits and more importantly, Natal black Snakes. We had been to Hogback several months prior and in the grips of winter, we had found many species from a large range of taxa. Last weekend held much promise because unlike last time, it was summer. We were… Read More

  Yesterday, Luke and I conquered tick bite fever and to celebrate, we ventured to Alicedale in search of the elusive berg adder, a species of dwarf adder which has not been seen in the region for over 75 years. To give context to the story, we had been in Alicedale one week prior and whilst we did not find the fabled berg adder, we did manage to find pepper ticks, lots… Read More

Cape Girdled Lizard (Cordylus cordylus)  Family: Cordylidae Size: 13-19cm Life span: Up to 15 years in captivity Diet: Most insects, snails, millipedes and occasionally small amounts of vegetation Description: Mottled brown, often with pale dorsal stripe, they also have a spiny tail, are strongly keeled and have a yellow to dull red-brown belly Number of young: 1-3 per year Conservation status: Least concern Enemies: Many small carnivores, including: Snakes and  birds of prey (especially… Read More

So now that winter is coming to an end, snakes and other reptiles are starting to become far more abundant. One species that has become particularly abundant in the last few weeks, is the puff adder (Bitis arietans). To give context, in the last week, I have come across three puff adders. Two of them were average-sized adult males and the the third was a very large, very pregnant, female puff adder, which… Read More

Today I accompanied Gareth to Kwandwe Private Game Reserve. He was looking for friends, because as I am sure you know, zoologists have few in the way of friends. Zoologists tend to keep to themselves, and when they do interact, they end up talking incoherently about the misconceptions of elephant-ecosystem interactions. Gareth is a prime example. But enough about that! Let’s rather talk about his project. Today he was setting up camera traps at Kwandwe Private Game… Read More

Augrabies, Northern Cape Grahamstown, Eastern Cape Umhlanga, Kwazulu Natal