I was called out to remove this Boomslang from a beekeeper’s backyard earlier today. After putting on some protective gear (apparently the bees are very defensive this time of year), I was able to climb up a ladder and get the snake out of a tree.
Boomslang are known for their strikingly large eyes – the largest of any African snake. Females are light to olive brown with dirty white to brown bellies, whereas males may have a variety of colors.
Shy and diurnal (active during the day), they spend most of their lives in trees and shrubs where they hunt eggs, birds, frogs, chameleons, and other tree-dwelling lizards.
Boomslang venom is haemotoxic, which means that it affects the clotting mechanism in blood and leads to severe internal and external bleeding, or even haemorrhage if untreated. Although potent, the venom is slow-acting and may take more than 24 hours to produce serious symptoms – an effective anti-venom is available in some locations.
There are two common myths about the Boomslang: firstly, that they drop from trees onto people who walk by (they don’t), and secondly that because they’re rear-fanged they can only bite you on your little finger (they are rear-fanged, but can open their jaws 170 degrees and bite you almost anywhere on your body).