Kruger National Park

Green Death – The Boomslang

The word “Boomslang” is the direct translation from the Afrikaans language, which literally means Tree Snake. A truly innovative name. Boomslangs are extremely agile and capable of climbing trees and gliding through the tree branches when hunting. During the colder weather, they will brumate (similar to hibernation) for moderate periods inside the enclosed bird’s nests. They have an average lifespan of around 8 years in the wild. One of their unique features is their large eyes. In the snake species, the Boomslang falls amongst the snakes with the largest eyes in relation to their head size. Their eyesight is so developed that they can catch birds in flight. The Boomslang is the only known species in its Genus and is surprisingly listed as least concern on the conservation status list.

The African Bush snake is often mistaken for the Boomslang.

They have seven to eight small teeth and venom fangs at the back of their jaws. They can open their jaw a 170-degree angle when biting and fold their fang when not using them.

The Boomslang is currently ranked as one of Africa’s most venomous snakes. But this was not the case before 1957. The Boomslang was regarded as harmless until 26th of September 1957, after Karl P. Schmid death. He was bitten on this thumb and never sought medical attention.  He recorded all his symptoms during his last 15 hours. When bitten by a Boomslang, the victim will bleed from all holes including the eyes, ears and mouth. The bleeding occurs is internally and externally, some victims even turn blue from internal bleeding.


Did you know?

The Boomslang is presented in pop culture, for instance, it’s shredded skin is used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets to make the Polyjuice Potion and the Boomslang is also the name of Marvel Comics supervillain that forms part of the Serpent Society.


Written by Tersha van Staden