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Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

South African snakes with venoms that are considered to be medically important.

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Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:29 pm

Atractaspis bibronii

Image

Ranging from 40-80cm
This family of snakes occur in Southern Africa and further north to mid Africa and in the middle East.
It has a cilindrical body and the colour can be from a brownish pink to black with a lighter belly.
This borrowing snake has a terminal spine.(an uncovered piece of spine protruding through the tip of the tail)
It usually comes up to the surface after heavy rains in summer nights.It has tiny eyes and it has huge hingeble fangs located just under the eyes.

These bad tempered snakes can not be safely held behind the head as it can hinge a fang
through a closed mouth.The venom is known to be cytotoxic and necrosis followed by gangrene
is not uncommon in bites.No deaths has been recorded but missing fingertips is common
amongst people that tried to catch them.
It feeds mainly on smaller reptiles,but also take small mice.
They lay up to 8eggs in summer.
When the snake is about to shed it's skin,the color changes to a purple blue color.
This picture you can see the display when they are threatened.
Image

Here you can clearly see the color change when it is about to shed its skin.Also note the terminal spine on the tail tip.
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The feeding habits of this snake is quite bizarre.It will drop a fang out of a closed mouth and stab the mouse to death.
Only after the mouse is dead,it will open the mouth for the 1st
time and swallow the prey as normal,but then the jaw of the snake is bigger than the skin covering it,
It sort of walks the prey down the throat and you'll be surprised to see the size of the meal that it can put down.


I took about 200 photos to luckily get this single photo of a fang.It is only visible
for a split second after stabbing the prey before it hinges it back into the mouth.

I had to put a watermark on this image as it might be going into a book at some stage.You can clearly see the long fang it used to stab the prey to death.
Image

And here is a pic where it swallowed that big meal.The moment it start to swallow the prey,they are quite relaxed,but apart from that time,they are always ready to bite.
Image

Here is a picture of a wolf snakes(Lycophidion capense)
These harmless snakes poses close similarity to the Atractaspidae ,but in fact is harmless.
Image


It lacks the terminal spine.But it also has a jerky movement when threatened,It will quickly coil and uncoil itself-just like the Asp.

Here is a picture of a different locality of Atractaspis bibronii.This one is from Limpopo(further north)It has a white belly that extends halfway up the black body.
Image

Changed the title because these snakes are not known to borrow items but will burrow. BV
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby roadkill456 » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:37 pm

Some interresting info there Ferdo. Great moment you capture there with the fang sticking out. Patience & persistance payed off in the end! Well Done man!
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:43 pm

Thanks man.Its still very incomplete,but to be 100% honest,I hate working with these snakes(there is nothing charming about them lol),but I do find them very interesting and I believe there is loads still to learn from them.Next step is to breed some out and take pictures of the hatching...
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby eyed_lizard » Tue Oct 19, 2010 2:49 pm

Very nice information, thanks!
And some very nice photos as well!
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby rolandslf » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:02 pm

Thanks Ferdo. Definitely a species to be avoided.
It is better to be Pissed Off than Pissed On.
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Durban Keeper » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:19 pm

rolandslf wrote:Definitely a species to be avoided.


Now that's not very nice, you'll heart their feelings!

Loving the pics & info Ferdo, great fang shot!
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby eyed_lizard » Tue Oct 19, 2010 3:23 pm

...I'm just thinking if you can teach them to open cans and bottles etc...?
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby MISA » Tue Oct 19, 2010 4:23 pm

Great Post Vuduman!
Awesome Photo's !
Thank you for taking the time to put it all together and then sharing it.
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Bushviper » Tue Oct 19, 2010 5:07 pm

Nice post. They do account for more school fees than any other species of snake in South Africa. You forget to mention that if you pick them up by the tail they whip around and often get you with the extended fang while moving past you. Basically there is not safe way to pick up these snakes.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Tue Oct 19, 2010 6:40 pm

lol.Borrowing asps-I borrowed them for the photos :)
Thanks for the compliments.
Yes BV.Sometimes you pic them up and get stabbed by the tail and stress that you actually got bitten.Horrible things :p
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Jamster » Tue Oct 19, 2010 8:44 pm

A good friend of mine keeps three of these little beasties, personally I think they're kinda cute- in closed containers! With that defensive pose, if you touch them (with a rather long pair of forceps) its interesting to watch how they quickly coil and uncoil flicking from side to side with their fangs exposed, hectic stuff. There was one individual that when it was caught it was put inside a tall thin plastic bottle and it then cork-screwed up the inside of the bottle several times while exposing its fangs, just bizzare and kinda scary! Eish, mole vipers, seriously dodgy little snakes.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Silvrav » Tue Oct 19, 2010 9:34 pm

Awesome and great work!
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Wed Oct 20, 2010 2:44 am

Thanks Silvrav.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Silvrav » Wed Oct 20, 2010 6:52 am

Vuduman, so to "quickly" tell the difference between the Atractaspis bibronii and wolf snake is by the head and tail? As the piece of spine that is protruding through the tip of the tail in Atractaspis bibronii can clearly be seen.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby michael » Wed Oct 20, 2010 10:17 am

Great article Vuduman! Is there any way to quickly tell the difference between these and the Purple Glossed Snakes or Natal Black Snakes?
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