I collected this Puff Adder from a guest house in Noordhoek yesterday.

I had quite a surprise when I arrived – I asked the security guard where the snake was, he shouted over a wall for someone to “bring the snake!”, and then someone walked around the corner carrying it like this because “that’s how they do it on TV”…

Please guys, don’t ever handle snakes unless you’ve been trained how to do so, and definitely don’t pick one up with your bare hands – some snakes can bite sideways or through their own jaws, and so can’t be handled without tools at all!


Common throughout most of South Africa (excluding mountain-tops, true desert, and dense forests), Puff Adders are slow-moving and excitable snakes with potently cytotoxic (tissue destroying) venom.

Puff Adders rely on their camouflage to remain unseen, and when disturbed they coil into a defensive “S”-shape and hiss loudly (hence their name). They usually move in a straight caterpillar-like motion but may move in a more rapid serpentine motion when trying to get away.

They are responsible for a large number of bites because unlike most other snakes they won’t move off when approached, and their exceptionally fast striking ability. Their fangs fold back against the roof of their mouths when not in use, and can be up to 18mm in length – this video provides an example of how Puff Adder fangs work.

As ambush hunters, Puff Adders sometimes wait motionless in one spot for hours at a time. They feed on rats, mice, birds, lizards, and occasionally other snakes.

Viviparous, they give birth to 20-40 young in the late summer months.

Find out more about this species here.

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