2009 – The year of the snake

No, this isn’t about the Chinese Year of the Snake, but about an amazing year that we’ve had as far as snake sightings are concerned.  Yesterday morning while we were walking back from the Avis Dam, just three kilometers from our home, we came upon a Cape Cobra on the path in front of us, a path that is traversed by any number of people on a sunny Sunday morning.  The cobra must have heard us coming as it was reared up and its hood was flared when we saw it. We stopped and drew back quickly, but we needn’t have worried because the snake lowered itself from its aggressive stance and took off into the grass.  Stepping forward to see where it had disappeared to, we saw a yellow mongoose poised just a few metres away, very close to where the snake had been. Could it have been the mongoose that chased the cobra onto the rather busy path?

Yellow mongoose Yellow mongoose

An encounter between a mongoose and a cobra would have been something interesting to witness.

Earlier in the year, on a trip to the Kagalagadi Transfrontier Park we saw several cobras and puff adders at fairly close quarters, usually in the road as they are almost invisible in even fairly short grass.

Cape cobra at Kgalagadi Cape cobra at Kgalagadi

Puff adder at Kgalagadi Puff adder at Kgalagadi

Cape cobra at Kgalagadi

In Botswana during April and May we again saw a number of cobras and puffadders. At Grasslands we saw a complete sloughed snake skin that looked as though it had been discarded by a puff adder. It was interesting to see that this skin had even covered the snake’s eyes.

Sloughed snake skin

At Mankwe we witnessed a puff adder struggling sluggishly to reach the bank of a dam – which it did.

Puff adder at Mankwe

And in Maun, at the Island Safari Camp a co-camper chased a fair sized puff adder out from under the tent in which his wife was having her afternoon nap. It was fascinating to watch the reaction of the birds and squirrels to the presence of this puff adder. The birds set up a raucous cacophony and flew in to mob the snake and the squirrels approached very closely, albeit very carefully, and grew very excited. They all kept this up until the snake had slithered well away from the campsite.

Puff adder at Maun

Puff adder at Maun

Just look at the magnificent dragon pattern on the head of the puff adder!

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