Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

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

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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby MrG » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:37 pm

Great post.
A few years ago a friend of BV :) also thought she was handling a wolf snake and ended up in hospital. I thought on that day, one would learn not to just pick up any snake. Guess what, a few months later the same happened again.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Wed Oct 20, 2010 12:50 pm

Yes,the Atractaspis is the only one that has the short blunt tail with the terminal spine protruding through the tip of the tail.You can clearly see it in the third photo,comparing it to the more tapered tail of the wolfsnake.The Natal black snake is a more bulky snake and is usually very docile and the tongue is red.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Puff the Magic Adder » Wed Oct 20, 2010 9:01 pm

Very useful info that! :-) Atractaspis has always been one of the harder snakes to accurately identify.

Another interesting fact I heard about these snakes is that they have the longest fangs in proportion to head size of any snake.
They've also had quite a taxonomical trip around different snake families. They once fell under Viperidae (Mole Adders, or Burrowing Adders), but other than being solenoglyphous they bear no resemblance to vipers at all. So they were moved to Colubridae, but that wasn't correct either. Now they've got their own family - Atractaspididae, which also now includes Centipede Eaters and Harlequin Snakes (and Natal Black Snakes too I think... not 100% sure there) Stiletto Snake, or Bibron's Stiletto Snake are their most popular common name these days.

I suppose they can be safely tubed, but I guess there is no safe way of dealing with the business end of these guys.
How well do they react to tongs?
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Jamster » Wed Oct 20, 2010 11:15 pm

Ive only ever handled them once with a long pair of forceps, either they wriggle or they coil and uncoil rapidly. Just have to be careful not to hurt them by sqeazing too hard.
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Re: Borrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Rishaad » Thu Oct 21, 2010 1:51 pm

Awesome pics and great info dude. Well done.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:08 pm

Thanks guys.And special thanks to Puff the magic adder for your contribution.
Im sure that there are alot of herpers out there that has been tagged by this one.Im one of them too.It was my very first venomous snakebite.

There is another old Afrikaans name for the too witch I think is a very good description :"sy pik slang" Side striking snake(direct translation)

The ones I'm keeping stays on a hookstick,but I prefer to use a little cage grabstick on them as sometimes they move out of control.
I don't think these snakes gets the respect that they deserve and I'm sure there are still lots to learn about them.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Durban Keeper » Fri Oct 22, 2010 11:31 pm

I once made the huge mistake of picking a stiletto up. It was the fists one I had ever seen. I gripped it mid body between my thumb and index finger and placed it flat on my other hand. The person who these snakes belong to was herping along with me. I must have held the snake for 15 or 20 seconds when I heard him shouting 'what the F*** are you doing' i got such a frigt I just dropped it. I feel incredibly lucky. I happened to find the only chilled stiletto in SA.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Sat Oct 23, 2010 1:37 am

I think, so many people has been bitten by stiletto snakes that the true figure will be alarming.If you ask someone"do you know stiletto snakes?"In most cases if they do know it,it's because they took a bite form one before.
I knew a guy who was herping with me,that took two drybites in one day by two different stilettosnakes!His gaurdian angels where working hard that day! :)
And I never took him herping with me again.lol
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Hennie » Thu Oct 28, 2010 7:31 am

You will also know Stilettos if you did BV's course. LOL
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Bushviper » Thu Oct 28, 2010 8:25 am

Hennie wrote:You will also know Stilettos if you did BV's course. LOL


Yip I have a number of photos taken of bites from this species. Every year the number of photos grows.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby elizebekker » Sun Oct 31, 2010 6:44 am

My brother was bitten by one last night. Is suffering in hospital in Newcastle. There was a veld fire and it was on its way into their house. His 8-year old son nearly picked it up (behind the neck etc. - farm boy who has seen his dad do this with a "molslang"'. Fortunately my brother jumped forward but was then bitten himself. I spoke to the ICU nurse this morning and she said "the poor man - I have given him every conceivable painkiller but nothing is helping. He says it feels like there is a burning lighter under the finger." Fortunately he killed the snake and my sister-in-law made him take it along when they drove to town.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Graeme » Sun Oct 31, 2010 7:19 am

Shame, that's terrible. Holding thumbs for him and hoping he gets well soon.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby Bushviper » Sun Oct 31, 2010 8:45 am

Elizebekker I am sorry to hear that. Trying to pick this species up by the neck will get your bitten. The pain will subside but he should be okay.

Dont let the doctors cut the finger at all. Even if it looks beyond hope get a second or third opinion before allowing amputation.

When your brother gets home make sure he does not have alcohol for quite a while as his liver is taking strain at the moment.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby haree » Wed Mar 28, 2012 6:06 pm

Its all about the poison....Well you really captured great views and I really like to your work.
Keep it up and keep sharing.
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Re: Burrowing asp(Atractaspis bibronii

Postby vuduman » Thu Mar 29, 2012 3:01 pm

Thank you haree :)
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