Boomslang Fact Sheet
BOOMSLANG / INDLONDLO
DISTRIBUTION AND DANGER
The Boomslang is found throughout Eswatini. Because of the males’ vivid green colour, it is often mistaken for a Green Mamba, which is not found in Eswatini.
Boomslang are mainly arboreal (living in trees and shrubs) and active during the day but can utilise woodpiles, rock walls, holes in tree stumps or old buildings.
It is a long and slender snake, growing up to 1.8m in length. The males are usually bright green with light green bellies, whilst the females are light brown with light cream or white bellies. The distinctive features are the large blunt head and enormous eyes. Both male and female Boomslang juveniles are brown above and have cream coloured bellies. The throat may be bright yellow, and the most distinctive feature is a huge bright green eye.
The Boomslang is not aggressive. Instead, it is docile and very reluctant to bite, even if harassed. Given the opportunity, it will always move away from danger. When cornered, it will inflate its throat to a marked degree and display its bright colouration. If further harassed, it may strike or bite, but bites are very rare in Eswatini.
BITE SYMPTOMS The venom is highly Haemotoxic, causing uncontrolled bleeding. The venom is slow-acting, and can become life-threatening and possibly fatal if antivenom (Monovalent – specific for Boomslang) is not administered. The antivenom is very effective but NOT readily available. The following symptoms may be apparent:
- Symptoms may not be evident for several hours.
- Slight swelling.
- Minimal to mild pain.
- Initially, there will be bleeding at the bite site, but later there will be bleeding from the nose, gums, and internally.
- Abdominal pain.
- Nausea and Vomiting.
- Hot and Cold fever.
- Increased sweating.
- The victim will feel lethargic (tired).
- Mental confusion.
FIRST-AID AFTER A BITE Although bites are rare, the victim will need to be hospitalised for at least 48 hours as the symptoms only appear after several hours.
- Remember to remain calm.
- Make a note of the time the bite occurred.
- Gently wash the bite site with water, nothing else.
- Remove rings, jewellery and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
- Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
- Immobilise the affected limb with a splint and apply a broad bandage from the bite site up the limb (towards the heart). Please note that both these conditions need to be met for this method to be effective.
- Give the victim any herbal remedy.
- Cut the bite site.
- Tie a tourniquet around the bitten limb.
Pictures © Copyright Mike Perry, Tyrone James Ping & Thea Litschka-koen