Common snakes in Knysna

5 of the most common venomous snakes

GARDEN ROUTE NEWS – Here is a list of the 5 of the most common venomous snakes in our area:

Cape cobra
Cobras react extremely quickly but will leave you alone and slither away once they do not feel threatened. They can grow up to 2m in length and vary in colour from black and reddish brown to olive brown or yellowish in colour.

Bites from this snake should be treated extremely seriously. While the spread hood is their trademark, they do not always do this when under threat and they are often mistaken for the harmless mole snake – a potentially deadly error. Their venom is neurotoxic and causes paralysis, resulting in respiratory, and heart failure.

Cobras are mainly ground snakes and live in a range of habitats, including desert, forest, fynbos, grassland, thicket and cultivated areas. These snakes sometimes get into homes close to grassy areas, in an attempt to escape the heat. They’ve even been spotted on the beach. They are very active during the day.

These look similar to a cobra, but the colour is different. Like cobras, they will spread their hood when they feel threatened. If that threat doesn’t move, they might spray venom. These critters are also very good at playing dead, so do not approach. They are not aggressive, though, and bites from these snakes rarely occur. However, their venom is neurotoxic/cytotoxic and can be potentially fatal.


The boomslang is one of the most venomous snakes found in South Africa. The good news is that they are very shy and bites from these critters aren’t common.

They can grow up to 2m in length. As the name suggests, they inhabit trees, but it is a myth that they will drop down from trees to attack. In fact, biting is actually difficult for a boomslang because their teeth are small and fairly retracted.

That said, their venom is extremely dangerous – even more so because symptoms are slow to appear. These snakes are found across South Africa, usually in trees or bushes.


Puff adder
The puff adder is responsible for most snake bites, because they use camouflage so well and because they are easily stepped on. Unlike other snakes who raise their hoods when threatened, puff adders freeze.

The snake has distinct markings with pale-edged chevron-like patterns running along its back. Masters at conserving energy and lying in wait for their next meal, puff adders can strike extremely fast from their S-like coiled position. With a reaction time of 0,25 of a second, this is arguably the fastest striking snake in the world.

They are beautiful creatures, but best left alone and observed from a distance. Their venom can be fatal, but less than ten percent of bites result in death. However, amputation may be required as the result of tissue damage. Where you might see a puff adder: They are the most common and widespread venomous snake. Found almost everywhere throughout Africa, except for rain forests and extreme desert habitats.

Puff adder

Berg adder
Otherwise known as the Cape mountain adder – and not to be mistaken for the puff adder – these are also nervous snakes. But their bites are rare and not often fatal, since a single dose of the venom is not powerful enough to kill an adult human. They are smaller than the puff adder and will hiss loudly when threatened.

As their name suggests, they can be found in mountainous regions, but there are reports of them living in the thick fynbos on the Cape coast.

Berg adder.

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