Puff Adder Encounter

“Waaaaaah,” I yelled as I spotted the puff adder seconds before it was about to strike.  With an adrenalin-enriched reflex I leapt clean off the ground and sailed through the air landing a safe distance away.  My  husband, who was following on the path behind me, fortunately came to an abrupt stop.  His astonishment at the scene registered with a  few choice words; though I’m not totally sure whether his stunned reaction was because of the athletiscm of his beloved or the raw power of the snake as it too became airborne.  Having missed it’s target the momentum of the strike propelled it forward through the air.  Quite a sight, I believe.  And hubby kept babbling on in awe and even managed to take a few photos with his cell phone as the snake withdrew.  It was a magnificent specimen; out of harm’s way I could admire it as it made off through the vegetation casting a baleful look my way.

Puff adders are ambush predators relying on camouflage to present an element of surprise to the unwary prey. Their venom is hemotoxic which destroys blood cells and can cause extensive tissue damage.  I suspect that I had unwittingly startled this creature and it had acted in defense.  It was a near encounter and I was rather shaken. It was a warm and sunny spring day and we had decided to walk the Kanonkop trail in the Cape of Good Hope Reserve.   We still had a way to go to the end of the trail so off we set again.   Around the next corner, would you believe another slithering reptile, this time a sand snake?  By the time we reached the car my nerves were shot and I was gabbing away quite gibberishly.  It was good to get home and settle down to a good strong cup of tea.  Hubby came back in from the garden, and guess what?  He’d found a baby cobra nestled in one of the pot plants…….. never a dull moment.



40 thoughts on “Puff Adder Encounter

  1. Good grief Liz, seeing that many snakes in a single day would have unnerved me totally! I’m very glad to read that your reflexes are still in good working order!

    1. True, a GnT would have been in order! but felt so washed out, the calming tea did the trick. Seem to recall a mamba story of yours, getting under the bonnet of your car? Nice to have a bit of spice in life.

      1. Thank goodness no, Liz, the mamba must have been someone else’s story, but I did have a Mozambique Spitting Cobra hiding in the car’s air vents a few years before Marilize and I were married!

  2. Wow Liz, and people say Australian reptiles are deadly, I think I will stay here for now, you guys certainly had a close call, and reflex saved the day. Great story Liz! This brings up all of our snake stories, I almost stepped on a poisonous Brown Snake a couple of years ago while filming Cockatoos, as I put my foot down I saw the snake beneath it and my adrenaline- reflex made me jump into the air and land right next to the snake, it was eye level with my face, and my camera hit the ground but the lens hood took the fall, I quickly jumped up as the snake moved into the bush. I was grazed and ruined a pair of jeans, but unbitten. My lens was intact. These snakes can be quite aggressive, especially in the summer months when breeding.

  3. Sjoe, Liz, how lucky you were aware and saw it in time! That’s an adrenalin rush you are unlikely to get addicted to no matter now magnificent the snake! And that sure is a magnificent snake. So magnificent your husband even had the presence of mind to take a pic 🙂 Now that the weather is warming up its likely snakes are becoming more active. I guess you’ll be treading warily for the next few weeks at least. Take care!

    1. Yes for sure, will have senses honed keeping a wary eye out! My neighbour describes them as ‘polite’ snakes always warning of their presence. Must admit to having been ignorant of their etiquette and ‘puffing’ sound. Hope though not to have to leap into avoidance tactics ever again.

    1. Scary it was for sure! Thanks for your comments Maralee. Nothing like a bit of a scare to take more precautions when out walking. Have at last put a first aid kit together for keeping in the backpack including a crepe bandage for strapping up snake bite wounds…. just in case.

  4. Luckily you are young and agile…I huess I would have been dead by now. So glad you got away from all of them – what a day. I think I would have had a BIG whiskey and slept in a hammock that night…

    1. Yes a lesson for sure! Mind you the first part of the hike was quite idyllic, found two species of orchids I’d never seen before and a ground dahlia. The geophytes are appearing too. Will be stepping out with far more warily after that close call.

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