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Boomslang (Dispholidus typus)

By: C.M.Shorter

The Boomslang Snake is a rather large, highly poisonous tree dwelling snake found throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Boomslangs are greenish to brown or even black in color. These coloring variations are the greatest of any other snakes in their Afrotropic regional habitat. It is the adult females that are usually brown in color, with males a light green color often with black or blue highlights outlining the edges of their scales. This snake is a one deadly animal because of its preference for aerial positioning in tree top and shrub cover. Hard to see in the thick forested cover of the savanna, the Boomslang Snake is well camouflaged and strikes without giving any warning signal. The Boomslang delivers a potent Hemotoxic venom to its victim through large, deeply grooved Folded Fangs positioned in the rear of its mouth and this snake bite can be fatal if left untreated.

Boomslang Snake
Boomslang Snake
Pictures of Boomslang Snakes

Average length is 100-160 centimeters (approximately 3.5 to just over 5 feet in length) with some snakes recorded over 6 feet in length. The most readily identifiable physical feature of the Boomslang is exceptionally large eyes proportionate to its distinctive egg-shaped head. If agitated, the Boomslang moves quickly and will inflate its neck to double its normal size right before striking its victim. Equipped with stereoscopic vision, the Boomslang hunts during the day in its arboreal territory making meals of chameleons, arboreal lizards, frogs, and occasionally small mammals, birds and eggs from nesting birds which they swallow whole.
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The Boomslang is a very unusual snake in that it is one of the very few poisonous snakes identified in the Colubridae snake family. Colubrids are the most common snakes with over 2,000 species worldwide, most of which are non-venomous snakes, including the Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes, Black Racers and Ribbon Snakes, all very popular species in the captive bred reptile industry. Boomslangs shares this rare poisonous Colubrid classification with only one other snake, the Bird Snake (thelotornis kirtlandii). The bite strike of the Boomslang, with dominant Hemotoxic venom, affects the circulatory system destroying red blood cells causing organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. Snakes with this deadly venom are classified in the group known as Solenoglypha which includes many of the snakes in the Viper families. Viperidae (True Vipers) such as the American Copperhead, Crotalidae (Pit Vipers) like the Cottonmouth and Rattlesnakes, and the Asian Pit Vipers have bites causing intense pain, swelling and necrosis even when delivered in small amounts, these snake bite causes severe hemorrhaging continuing for extended periods, even 24-48 hours after strike contact, making the Boomslang very dangerous to man.

These excellent tree climbing snake are oviparous, laying up to 8-25 eggs usually in the hollows of a tree or in mounds of leaf litter. Young Boomslang snakes hatch in the Spring, some 70-100 days later. Fairly common throughout sub-Sarahan Africa, the Boomslang occupies the same territory as the Twig Snake, Cobra, Puff Adder, the Green Mamba and the greatly feared Black Mamba.

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Common Name: Boomslang
Scientific Name: Dispholidus typus
Snake Family: Colubridae
Description: Long, agile tree-dwelling snakes with wide color variations from Light Brown (females), Greens (males) to black.
Characteristics: Difficult to see in their natural environment, not overly aggressive but approach is swift and without warning when attacking.
Reproduction: Oviparous (egg bearing) with as many as 8-25 young hatched in the Spring.
Length: 100-160 centimeters (Approx. 3.5-5.5 ft)
Habitat Distribution: Common throughout the countries of sub-Saharan Africa, which includes some of the poorest countries in the world and the Island of Madagascar, throughout the Comoros archipelago, Mauritius, and Seychelles.

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See also:
How to Avoid Snake Bites
| Poisonous Snake Bites Effects | Snake Venom | Snake Fangs
Other Snakes:
Diamondback Rattlesnake
| King Cobra | Spitting Cobra | Kingsnakes & Milk Snakes

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