Local News

The Year Of The Night Adder


If, based upon all the reports on HCS, you get the feeling that we are being invaded by night adders – you are right … well almost.

Whilst we are not being invaded, there is most certainly a population explosion of this species on the Lower South Coast at the moment.

According to local herpetologist (snake expert),  Craig van Rensburg – every year a different species seems to be prevalent. For example, one year you will see unusually high numbers of house snakes, and another year you will hardly see them. This year, it seems, is the year of the Night Adder.

Although the Night Adder is a famous “show off” and tries to look as menacing as possible, they will normally always try and retreat when confronted. Bites are very seldom more serious than a mild irritation for a few days. When disturbed they coil up, inflate their body (which makes the black blotches on them stand out), and start hissing loudly.

The venom is mildly cytotoxic (cell-destroying). Most bites result in only minimal swelling with painful enlargement of the glands in the affected limb. These symptoms normally disappear after a few days, although some people have shown very serious reactions to the venom. Medical assistance and anti-venom is not normally necessary, but it would be better to be safe than sorry.

It can be recognised by the well-defined V-shaped marking on the back of the head which reaches forward to between the eyes, and the squarish markings along the back.  These markings are either black over grey, or dark brown over light brown, although in the berg they tend to be of the former combination.

The common night adder is a fairly fast species of snake; it can move at the speed of 3.312 km per hour. They are usually found on the ground, but they can climb trees and are okay swimmers. They are mainly nocturnal, but some have been seen basking in the early morning or late afternoon. Common night adders are oviparous, meaning that they lay eggs, while other vipers are usually viviparous, meaning that they give live birth. Females lay around 2 dozen eggs at a time, which take around 4 months to hatch. Once hatched, the young are 10-12.5 cm long and eat small frogs and toads.

If you come across a snake at your home or business and would like it removed by someone, “other than yourself” – we are fortunate to have two passionate conservationists who offer their services to the HCS Community.

For a small fee to cover fuel and travelling expenses, you may call either of these brave men to assist.

  •  Craig van Rensburg 079298891
  • Haydn Bircher 0827082125

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