Ongava Research Centre


Reptilia: Snakes

Fourteen snakes of 9 species were recorded during the initial survey, representing four families: Pythonidae (pythons); Colubridae (typical snakes); Elapidae (cobras and their kin) and Viperidae (vipers). Several other species were documented from photographs taken in the months before the survey began and after completion of the survey. These species are included in a separate section of this report.


Python natalensis - outhern African rock python
A large species, widely distributed across southern Africa, a single 1.5m specimen was captured in the drain bag of an unused toilet at Tiervlei (location L). Additonal, large, specimens have been reported across the reserve since.

Southern African rock python, Python natalensis


Boaedon fuliginosus mentalis - Namib housesnake
House snakes are common snakes in southern Africa and a frequent species around human habitations, but this is the Namibian subspecies. Two specimens were collected during the survey, a small individual from Ongava Tented Camp (location M) and a larger specimen, that regurgetated a Turner's thick-toed gecko (Chondrodactylus turneri turnei) in a guest's room at Ongava Lodge (location I).

Namib housesnake, Boaedon fuliginosus mentalis

Dispholidus typus typus - Boomslang
The highy venomous backfanged boomslang is an occasional sighting on the reserve. A specimen was reported from a mopane tree on the road to Sonop (location P) but it was not in evidence when we arrived. Two specimens were captured around ORC and Tiervlei (location L), a 1.28m brown female during the survey, caught in a mango tree in the staff village behind Tiervlei, and a 1.95m green male, found in the ORC residence grounds shortly after the survey period.

Boomslang, Dispholidus typus typus (female)
Boomslang, Dispholidus typus typus (male)

Hemirhagerrhis viperinus - Viperine barksnake
A small endemic Namibian backfanged snake that feeds on geckos and inhabits rock piles rather than the mopane and acacia trees of its eastern relative (H.nototaenia). A single specimen was collected at Ongava Tented Camp (location M).

Viperine barksnake, Hemirhagerrhis viperinus

Philothamnus semivariegatus semivariegatus - Spotted bushsnake
Another common southern African snake, found in many differing habitats, the spotted bushsnake is a frequently encountered snake on the reserve. Two specimens were collected, one in the ORC residence grounds (location L) and the other in the capture boma (location C).

Spotted bushsnake, Philothamnus semivariegatus semivariegatus

Psammophis subtaeniatus subtaeniatus - Stripe-bellied sandsnake
A commonly encountered species but not one that is easily taken, three out of four specimens sighted evading capture around Margo House, on the Bellway and the roads around Ongava Tented Camp (locations K and M). Three specimens were captured and more have been documented since.

Stripe-bellied sandsnake, Psammophis subtaeniatus subtaeniatus (top adult, btm juvenile)

Psammophylax tritaeniatus - Striped skaapsteker
Two specimens of this relatively common species were found sheltering under bark on a fallen tree at Sonop Old Reservoir (location P) and on the Bellway (location B).

Striped skaapsteker, Psammophylax tritaeniatus



Naja nigricincta nigricincta - Western barred spitting cobra
A commonly encountered and frequently killed species on the reserve. Also known as the Zebra spitting cobra
. During the survey only one specimen was captured, coincidentally during filming of "Safari Park", in the capture boma (location C). Two smaller specimens were captured shortly after the survey, at ORC (location L) and on the Bellway.


Western barred spitting cobra, Naja nigricincta nigricinta


Bitis arietans arietans - Puff adder
Shortly after the capture of the Western barred spitting cobra (Naja nigricincta nigricincta) a single Puff adder was captured near a concrete block on the approach to Sonop (location D).

Puff adder, Bitis arietans arietans