Boomslang Fact File
The boomslang is a moderately sized snake with a long, thin body. Their body color is extremely variable providing camouflage based on the habitat they live in.
In general females tend to be an olive grey or brown color while the males tend to be more green. Many variations on this exist though for example in the Cape they tend to be black on top with yellow or green on the side. The underside tends to be paler than the upper body.
The scales have a keeled texture making their body appear rough.
The head is small and features a rather large eye. In juveniles the eyes are emerald green while adults tend to have a brown eye.
Between the scales are areas of dark skin and when threatened they will inflate the neck to show this off.
On average they measure 1.2m (4ft) long but they have been known to reach lengths up to 2m (6.6ft)
Boomslangs are carnivores. Their diet mostly comprises lizards such as chameleons though they will also eat birds.
They have a potent venom which is delivered through fangs located towards the back of the mouth. Prey is caught and they then chew on it to inject the venom.
In humans the venom can cause hemorrhages and potentially be fatal. If bitten by a snake one should always seek medical attention.
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Africa is the native home of the boomslang. Here they have a wide range through much of the continent south of the Sahara desert. They are most common in the central and southern areas of Africa.
Boomslangs will make their home in a variety of habitats owing to their large range these include karoo scrub, arid savanna, lowland forests.
Mating takes place in the spring usually through December and January. Males will leave trails of hormones which females follow to find them. They are among the few snakes which will mate in trees.
Following a successful mating it will be four to eight weeks before the female lays eggs. Females deposit their clutch with an average of 14 eggs within a tree hollow or dead vegetation. Extremely large clutches up to 27 have been observed.
These eggs will incubate for between 2 and 3 months. Once they hatch they are entirely independent.
Their first shed will take place around 10 days old and these continue at regular intervals throughout the snakes life.
Sexual maturity is reached between two and three years old.
Boomslangs are considered arboreal with much of their time spent in the trees. When hunting they tend to sit motionless in a tree with their forepart of the body extending out.
Predators and Threats
Natural predators of the boomslang include birds of prey and mammals.
When threatened they will inflate their neck and show off the dark skin between their scales.
Their name comes from the Dutch word for tree (‘boom’).
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By Dick Culbert from Gibsons, B.C., Canada – Dispholidus
typus– Boomslang snakes, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=50155551
By William Warby from London, England – Boomslang SnakeUploaded by berichard, CC
BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=6492092
By safaritravelplus – https://www.safaritravelplus.com/images/wildlife/boomslang-snake/, CC0,
Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK
Rafferty, J., 2021. Boomslang | Snake. [online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: <https://www.britannica.com/animal/boomslang> [Accessed 8 January 2021].
African Snakebite Institute. 2021. Boomslang – African Snakebite Institute. [online] Available at: <https://www.africansnakebiteinstitute.com/snake/boomslang/> [Accessed 8 January 2021].
Coffey, K. and A. Robinson 2012. “Dispholidus typus” (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 07, 2021 at https://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Dispholidus_typus/
Krugerpark.co.za. 2021. Boomslang – Reptiles And Snakes – Africa. [online] Available at: <http://www.krugerpark.co.za/africa_boomslang.html> [Accessed 8 January 2021].
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