Mole Snake near Melkbosstrand

Mole Snakes are found in a variety of habitats – even mountainous regions and deserts – but they’re particularly common in sandy scrub-covered and grassveld regions.

They spend most of their time underground, pushing their way through soft sand in search of moles and other rodents.

Juvenile (young) mole snakes have a variety of patterns and colors that they lose completely once they reach adulthood.

Viviparous, Mole Snakes give live birth to anywhere between 25-50 babies in late summer.

Find out more about this species here.

Boomslang rescued near Melkbosstrand

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).

Find out more about this species here.

Rain Spider near Parklands North

A member of the Huntsman Spiders family, Rain Spiders are free-running, ground-living arachnids often found in built-up areas, trees, under bark, in rock crevices, and on vegetation.

Rain Spiders are harmless to humans and can be from 6-36 mm in size. They are easily recognizeable because of their size, the banded patterning on their legs, and the white “moustache” on their cephalothorax (head & thorax).

Their venom is not deadly to humans, and comparable to a beesting.

Rough Thicktailed Scorpion near Brackenfell

These scorpions are found in the drier parts of Southern Africa, and can measure up to 115mm in length.

Rough Thicktailed Scorpions are the most medically significant scorpion species in South Africa, with a few people that die from their neurotoxic sting every year.

They tend to inhabit hard-packed sandy and gritty soil where they make burrows at the bases of shrubs or grass tufts, or under logs and stones. Members of this species are active hunters rather than ambushers, seeking prey which includes other scorpions.

Western Natal Green Snake

Philothamnus is a genus of snakes in the family Colubridae. The genus is endemic to Sub-Saharan Africa.

It is a beautifully-marked, bright green snake that is active during the day when it hunts for geckos and frogs.

This snake climbs well but is usually found on the ground, especially along the banks of well-shaded rivers and streams. It is quick to escape when disturbed and will bite readily if handled, but is completely harmless.

Rhombic Egg-Eater near Big Bay

Although completely harmless, people often get a fright and kill Rhombic Egg-Eaters due to their defensive posturing – they coil their bodies and rub their keeled scales against each other to produce a loud hissing noise, then flatten their head and open their mouth whilst pretending to strike.

In reality they barely have any teeth, and they are completely harmless! You can see a video demonstrating this defensive posturing here.

Mainly nocturnal, Rhombic Egg-Eaters feed exclusively on birds’ eggs. They have sharp protrusions on the inside of their spine that they use to crack an egg open after they’ve swallowed it, then they spit the shell back out.

Oviparous, they lay 6-25 eggs in summer.

Find out more about this species here.

Cape Cobra near Melkbosstrand

Also known as a “Koperkapel” or “Geelslang” in Afrikaans, the Cape Cobra is a common venomous snake that can range in colour from yellow through reddish brown to black.

When threatened or cornered, Cape Cobras are quick to spread a hood and won’t hesitate to bite. Their venom is highly neurotoxic (the most potent of any African cobra), attacking the nervous system and causing respiratory collapse (the victim stops breathing).

Cape Cobras feed on rodents, birds, lizards, toads, and other snakes.

Oviparous, they lay 8-20 eggs in mid-summer.

Find out more about this species here.

Brown Button Spider near Parklands North

Known as “Knopiespinnekoppe” in Afrikaans, Button Spiders are found from Cape Town along the south coast to the eastern and central parts of the region.

Their egg sacs have distinctive shapes, textures, and colours according to the subspecies: those belonging to Black Button Spiders (Latrodectus cinctus, a.k.a. Black Widow Spiders) are smooth, cream-colored, and about the size of a pea, whereas those belonging to Brown Button Spiders (Latrodectus geometricus) are covered in small spikes.

Button Spiders weave irregularly-spaced webs with strong, elastic silk and usually include a retreat of thick, opaque silk and debris on one side.

They have a neurotoxic venom that’s medically significant, but they are not aggressive at all – when threatened they either hide in their silk retreats or fall to the ground with their legs curled, feigning death.

Mortality from the bites of Button Spiders is less than one percent worldwide. Untreated, symptoms from bites last for about five days and are very unpleasant.

Initially the site of the note is painful, then after 10-60 minutes the pain spreads to lymph nodes closest to the bite site, and from there to the muscles and joints. Strong, painful muscle cramps develop and the abdominal muscles become rigid. The bite victim’s face becomes contorted, flushed, and sweaty, the eyelids swollen, the lips inflamed, and the jaw muscles contracted.

A toxin in the venom can pass the blood / brain barrier and attack the central nervous system, resulting in severe psychological symptoms ranging from anxiety to absolute terror.

Solifuge near Philadelphia

Despite the common names, Solifuges are neither true scorpions (order Scorpiones) nor true spiders (order Araneae).

They are an order of animals in the class Arachnida known variously as camel spiders, wind scorpions, sun spiders, or solifuges. They are also known as “Red Romans”, “Haarskeerders”, “Baardskeerders”, “Camel Spiders”, “Wind Spiders”, and “Kalahari Ferraris”.

Cape Cobra near Melkbosstrand

Also known as a “Koperkapel” or “Geelslang” in Afrikaans, the Cape Cobra is a common venomous snake that can range in colour from yellow through reddish brown to black.

When threatened or cornered, Cape Cobras are quick to spread a hood and won’t hesitate to bite. Their venom is highly neurotoxic (the most potent of any African cobra), attacking the nervous system and causing respiratory collapse (the victim stops breathing).

Cape Cobras feed on rodents, birds, lizards, toads, and other snakes.

Oviparous, they lay 8-20 eggs in mid-summer.

Find out more about this species here.