Puff Adder!

At Kruger this past weekend, we came across the deadliest snake in Africa: the puff adder. Most people think of the black mamba first when they think of deadly snakes, and with good reason, but the puff adder causes the most deaths.

travel South Africa puff adder
Puff adder crossing a dirt road near Orpen Camp in Kruger National Park

“Puff Adder” is a name given to several snake species in the world, some harmless, others lethal. The puff adder in Africa (species bitis arietans) is a venomous viper snake, and ranks number one for snakebite fatalities in Africa because it has a vast distribution throughout Africa, it’s commonly found in highly populated areas, and, well, it just doesn’t move.

travel South Africa puff adder
This guy certainly wasn’t moving. He stayed still until we left. When we drove through awhile later, he was gone.

So while mambas and cobras are also deadly, you’re less likely to be bitten by one. They slither away whereas the puff adder relies on his camouflage to hide. He doesn’t flee from footsteps, and he is so well hidden that people step on him and FANG! you’re dead. They are strong and forceful and have very long fangs that even penetrate leather. Uh…yeah. Geez Louise!

travel South Africa puff adder
This is a “little guy” but I wouldn’t mess with him. We had a good zoom lens, a small window opening and a big distance between our car and the snake.

Snake Catcher is a decent occupation here in South Africa, and there are up to 30 people who have snake catching certification on my husband’s worksite. And with good reason. Here is one of the many puff adders found on his site. This one was hiding under some construction beams:

travel South Africa venomous snake
Puff adder hiding under steel beams on a construction site
travel South Africa venomous snakes
Putting the puff adder in a “tupperware” container for transport. Er…

Despite their deadly potential, the site deals with the snakes humanely, issuing a catch-and-release policy that removes the reptiles to environments where they can continue contributing to the natural order of South African wildlife (yes, I’m humming Circle of Life right now.)

travel South Africa puff adder
Releasing a puff adder back into the wild.
travel South Africa snake

Just thought you would enjoy this glimpse into the finding, catching and releasing of Africa’s deadliest snake.

Love, Marla

6 thoughts on “Puff Adder!

  1. So, I’ve been quite curious to see your Africa pics, so I’ve been traveling backwards through your blog. I almost fainted reading about this snake. Lol

    Not much of a snake fan here!

  2. Wow. What a crazy encounter. I would have been cowering in the car for sure.

  3. Awesome post, sis! Obviously your snake-lovin’ brother is happy they catch and release them from around the worksite! Still, just knowing you could be nailed by one of those just doing your daily deeds sure gives me the willies!!

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