Summer means snake season as these cold-blooded reptiles make the most of basking in the sun. But just how much do you know about snakes? Take part in our snake quiz and stand a chance to win a comprehensive snake guide worth R370.
Note down your choices – the right answers are revealed at the bottom of the blog.
1. While black mambas lay up to 17 eggs, a puff adder gives birth to live young. What is it called when snakes give birth to slithering youngsters?
2. Snake identification can be daunting, but a field guide will highlight easily confused species. The boomslang, for instance, is often mistaken for:
(a) olive grass snake
(b) black mamba
(c) spotted bush snake
3. Because a snake’s external layer of skin does not grow, a snake will periodically shed its skin throughout its life. Prior to shedding…
(a) a snake’s eyes become blue in colour
(b) snakes will regurgitate their last meal
4. Synonymous with snakes are, of course, those flickering forked tongues. When a snake picks up scent particles in the air, they are deposited onto the . . . helping the snake to interpret its environment.
(b) organ of Jacobson
(c) olfactory chamber
Young Cape Cobra (Naja nivea) – Highly venomous. Largely active during the day, Cape Cobras are also known to forage for food in the evenings. Well known for raiding Sociable Weavers nests, it preys on fledglings and eggs and this behaviour is often observed in the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park. They are nervous snakes and will avoid confrontation if possible. These snakes have predominantly neurotoxic venom and bite victims need to be transported to a hospital as soon as possible.
5. For snakes, venom is a natural means to an end – killing prey and surviving in the wild. For herpetologists, it’s an intriguing field of study. Snake venom is complex and varies dramatically between species. The boomslang and twig snake are known for which type of venom?
Southern Twig or Vine Snake (Thelotornis capensis capensis). A perfectly-camouflaged snake that is difficult to see when perched on a branch. They usually position themselves about a meter above the ground in a shrub where they remain motionless while watching the ground below for passing snakes and lizards. The venom of this snake is potently haemotoxic and causes uncontrolled internal bleeding. There is no antivenom for the venom of the Twig Snake but no fatalities have been recorded in South Africa. Known fatalities were probably caused by species further north that reach a length of 1.7 m whereas the Southern Twig snake grows to 1.4 m.
6. This snake’s venom gland is so long, it extends almost a third of its body. It also has a distinct V-shaped marking on the head. Which snake is it?
(a) berg adder
(b) many-horned adder
(c) rhombic night adder
7. The Zulu name for the brown water snake, is:
8. Fangless snakes are widespread throughout South Africa and have no venom glands. Which of the following snakes are not fangless?
(a) Southern African python
(b) Natal green snake
(c) Western yellow-bellied snake
9. For many, most species’ scientific names are not only challenging to remember, but deserve tongue-twister status. Naja nigricinta nigricinta is the scientific name of which cobra?
(a) Forest cobra
(b) Western barred spitting cobra
(c) Black-necked spitting cobra
10. One of Wild’s online photo stories features two snakes preying on a Bibron’s gecko. Can you name these snakes?
Win a snake guide
Send an email with your answer to QUESTION 10 to [email protected] (subject line: snake quiz) before 8 March 2018 to stand a chance to win. Remember to include your postal and street address, full names and contact details. Wild will randomly select the winners. Winners will be notified via email.
Winners: Lester Niss, Revash Singh, Thandi Davies