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Twig Snake

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Of all the snakes I have caught, this is the one I like to hold the least. Perhaps it is the knowledge that no antivenom is available or perhaps the concentrated, tense posture of the snake.

Because they are arboreal, you will not easily run into a twig snake. If you do run into one on the ground (like I did) it is probably wise to recognise it and give it a wide berth

Description

The Twig, Vine or Bird snake has a pale blue-green upper head heavily speckled with dark brown, black and sometimes pink. A wide pink-white, black-speckled band runs along upper lip from snout to back of head passing across lower half of eye.

A dark oblique band radiates from each eye to upper lip. Chin and throat are white, speckled with black. Tongue is bright yellow to orange-red and black-tipped . An unusual keyhole-shaped pupil with eye in very forward position gives this snake binocular vision - allowing it to recognize stationary prey at significant distances.

Vine Snakes come in many different patterns and shades. Colors vary from almost uniformly grayish-white with tiny black speckles along its body. As they age orange markings appear on the head and the grayish-white pattern becomes more complex, making them look just like twigs or branches as they lay motionless in trees awaiting their prey.

Habits

The Zulus believe that this snake strikes and wounds like a spear because of the blinding speed of the strike

It seldom bites unless provoked, moving gracefully and swiftly when disturbed.

Although it is a timid snake, it will inflate its neck to display the bright skin between scales when threatened, followed by lunging strikes while the bright tongue flickers in a wavy motion.

Although often called bird snakes, they prey largely on chameleons and lizards but small birds are frequently eaten by larger specimens of 1,5 meters long. Their gray-green blotched coloring blends perfectly with foliage in which they lie motionless for hours.

Venom

Slow-acting Haematoxic, acting on the blood, disabling the clotting process and causing internal and external bleeding.

Symptoms typically occur 24-48 hours after being bitten. Venom is similar to that of the boomslang but as a rule less severe, nevertheless potentially dangerous. A number of deaths have been recorded. Bites are rare.

At present no antivenom is available.

First Aid

Immobilise and reassure victim, who must lie down and be kept as quiet as possible. Apply pressure bandage immediately, immobilise limb with a splint to reduce spread of venom. Loosen, but do not remove bandage if there is severe swelling. Take victim to hospital as soon as possible.

Using a tourniquet to prevent the snake venom from being released in the bloodstream is extremely dangerous and could result in the loss of the affected limb. The cutting open and sucking out of venom is a waste of time

Food

Chameleons, tree-dwelling lizards, birds, snakes.

Reproduction

Oviparous. Lays 4-18 eggs which hatch after 90 days. Young 230-330 mm.

Enemies

Birds of prey and other snakes.

Habitat

Trees and shrubs in moist savanna and lowland forest.

This is a series of photos taken by SW, a friend in his garden in Nelspruit

Information courtesy www.ultimatefieldguide.com


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