PUFF ADDER - LIBULULU

VERY DANGEROUS

Puff adders are mainly active at night and most bites occur after dark. However, bites do sometimes occur during the day.

  • A short, fat snake averaging 0.9m – 1.2m
  • The head is triangular in shape.
  • The colour can vary from light to dark brown.
  • The scales are rough to the touch.
  • There are distinctive yellow or cream V shapes (chevrons) down the back.
  • The stomach scales ( ventral part) are light cream.
  • The snake will hiss loudly when confronted or disturbed.
  • Just before it strikes it will make an S shape and it may look as if the snake “jumps” when it strikes.

The venom is highly Cytotoxic and immediate medical attention is required.

The following symptoms may be apparent:

  • There will be an immediate burning sensation at the bite site.
  • There will be a throbbing pain at the bite site.
  • Swelling will start within minutes, and will move up the bitten limb.
  • The swelling will continue, up the entire limb.
  • The swelling will feel hot to touch.

There will probably be bleeding or liquid oozing from the bite site.

A bite from this snake is very painful but not life threatening if treated correctly.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently wash the affected area area with water, nothing else.
  • Remove rings, jewelry and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite site.
  • Write the time bite occurred next to the bite site.
  • Elevate(lift) the affected limb.
  • Keep the bite elevated until you reached the medical facility.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, tourniquet(tie a band, belt or rope) or apply a pressure bandage on affected limb.

Puff Adder Protocol

MOZAMBIQUE SPITTING COBRA I IMFETI

VERY DANGEROUS

Mozanbique Spitting Cobra

This snake is very common in Eswatini and is responsible for most of the recorded bites. It is mostly active at night but will also hunt during the day. Although it spits venom, it will bite without hesitation if it feels threatened or is hurt.

  • It will rear up and spread its hood when threatened. If it is not left alone, it will spray its’ venom. If it still feels threatened or is hurt, it will strike.
  • Some victims may have multiple bites.
  • A medium length snake averaging 1.2m – 1.5m.
  • The colour is light to dark brown or dark grey.
  • The skin between scales is black.
  • The throat is light orange with 2 to 3 black bands.

The venom is highly Cytotoxic and immediate medical attention is required.

The following symptoms may be apparent:

  • There will be immediate burning sensation at the bite site.
  • There will be a throbbing pain at the bite site.
  • Swelling will start, within minutes, and will move up the bitten limb.
  • The swelling will feel hot to the touch.
  • There will be very little or not bleeding from the bite site.

A bite from this snake is very painful but not life threatening if treated correctly. Antivenom is required 90% of cases to limit damage to the affected limb.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently wash the affected area area with water, nothing else.
  • Remove rings, jewelry and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite site.
  • Write the time bite occurred next to the bite site.
  • Elevate(lift) the limb.
  • Keep the limb elevated until you have reached the medical facility.

DO NOT, under any circumstances, tourniquet( tie a band, belt or rope) or apply a pressure bandage to the affected limb.

Mozambique Spitting Cobra Protocol

SNOUTED COBRA - PHEMPHETFWANE

VERY DANGEROUS

Snouted Cobra
SNouted Cobra

This snake is mostly active during the day and prefers the hot climate areas of Eswatini.

  • This snake is usually 1.2m to 1.8m in length and can become quite robust(fat) when it reaches full maturity.
  • The colour is grey, light to dark brown, very often the colour of light honey.
  • Mature adults have a broad copper band in the throat.
  • Juvenile snakes will have a several lighter bands which become darker with age.
  • The ventral (stomach) scales are light cream or yellow in colour.
  • When threatened it will rear up and spread up its large hood.
  • It may hiss a warning.
  • It can be very aggressive if threatened and will not hesitate to strike.

This snake’s venom is highly Neurotoxic and a bite from this should be considered a medical emergency. Immediate and urgent medical assistance will be necessary. 

The following system may be apparent:

  • Minimal to mild swelling in most cases.
  • Pain can be Minimal to Acute.
  • The victim will have difficulty in focusing his or her eyes.
  • The arms and legs will become weak.
  • Speech may be slurred.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Severe thirst.
  • The chest will feel tight and the victim might find it difficult to breath.

The victim may need assistance to breath as the lungs may become paralyzed.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently wash the affected area area with water, nothing else.
  • Remove rings, jewelry and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite site.
  • Write the time bite occurred next to the bite site.
  • Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
  • If you are close to medical facility, immobilize the affected limb with a splint and apply a broad pressure bandage from the bite site up the limb. Please note that both these conditions need to be met in order for this method to be effective.
  • Only if far from a medical facility, apply a broad band tourniquet around the highest part of the affected limb.
  • minimize all movement of the patient and limb.

Snouted Cobra Protocol

RINKHALS - PHEMPHETFWANE

VERY DANGEROUS

Rinkhals
Rinkhals Hood

This snake is only found in the cooler parts of Swaziland.

  • It is small to medium sized snake, usually 0.9m to 1.2m.
  • The colou is dark grey to black.
  • It may have bands down the entire length of the snake.
  • It has 1 to 3 white bands on the throat.
  • If threatened it may act as if it is dead.
  • When threatened, it will rear up and spread a hood.
  • It will spray venom from a reared up position.

The venom is both Dytotoxic and Neurotoxic.

The following system may be apparent:

  • Minimal to mild swelling in most cases.
  • Pain can be minimal to acute.
  • The victim may have difficulty in focusing his/her eyes.
  • The arms and lega may become weak.
  • Speech may be slurred.
  • The victim may feel nauseous and may vomit.
  • It may become difficult to swallow.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Severe thirst.
  • The chest may feel tight and the victim may have difficulty breathing.
  • There will be little to no blood around the bite site.

The symptoms are usually not vey severe but there have been isolated cases where the victim has collapsed within a few minutes.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently waqsh the bite area with water, NOTHING else.
  • Remove rings, jewellery and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring arounf the bite area.
  • Write the time the bite occured next to the bite area.
  • Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
  • Get to a medical feacility.

Rinkhals Protocol

BOOMSLANG - INDLONDLO

VERY DANGEROUS

Boomslang
Female Boomslang

This snake if often mistaken for a Green Mamba ( Not found in Eswatini )

  • A long slender snake growing up to 1.8m in length.
  • The males are bright green with light green bellies.
  • The females ar elight brown with light vream or white bellies.
  • It has a large blunt head.
  • It has very large eyes.
  • It is not an aggressive snake and very seldom bites.
  • Juveniles are brown above, and have cream coloured bellies. The throat may be bright yellow. The most distinctive feature is their very large bright green eyes.

The venom is Haemotoxic. Monovalent ( Polyvalent antivenom is ineffective ) antivenom is very effective given many hours or even days after the bite. This antivenom is NOT readily available.

The following symptoms may be apparent:

  • Symptoms WILL NOT be obvious for several hours.
  • The venomcauses internal bleeding.
  • There will be bleeding at the bite site.
  • Bleeding from the nose, gums, eyes and ears.
  • Slight swelling.
  • Minimal to mild pain.
  • The victim will feel lethargic (tired).
  • Mental confusion.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Hot and cold fever.
  • Increased sweating.

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.
  • Gently wash the bite site with water, NOTHING else.
  • Remove rings, jewellery and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite area.
  • Write the time the bite occured nexto the bite area.
  • 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 in order for this method to be effective.

Boomslang Protocol

VINE SNAKE - LUNUNKHU

VERY DANGEROUS

Vine Snake Camouflage
Vine Snake

The vine snake is not aggressive and very seldom bites.

  • A very slender snake with a long, thin tail.
  • The colour is various shades of grey and brown, resembling a twig.
  • The top of the head can be green with black or brown spots.
  • The eye has a horizontal pupil and is keyhole.
  • When threatened, it will inflate its neck (see picture).

The venom is Haemotoxic.

There is NO antivenom to treat a bite of this snake. 

The following symptoms may be apparent:

  • Symptoms will not be obvious for several hours.
  • The venom causes internal bleeding.
  • There will be bleeding at the bite site.
  • Bleeding from the nose, gums, eyes and ears as well as old.
  • Slight swelling.
  • Minimal to mild pain.
  • The victim will feel lethargic (tired).
  • Mental confusion.
  • Nausea and Vomiting
  • Hot and Cold fever.
  • Increased sweating.

Although bites are rare, the victim will need to be hospitalised for at least 48 hours as the symptoms only appear after several hours. Treatment will have to be symptomatic.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently wash the bite site with water, noting else.
  • Remove rings, jewelry and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite site.
  • Write the time the bite occurred next to the bite site.
  • Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
  • Immobilize the affected limb with a splint and apply a broad pressure bandage, from the bite site up the limb (towards the heart).
  • Please note that both these conditions need to be met in order for this method to be effective.

Vine Snake Protocol

BLACK MAMBA - IMAMBA

VERY DANGEROUS

images (1)
Black Mamba Close Up

The Black mamba is not an aggressive snake but very defensive. It will often bite multiple times (legend says that a second bite removes the venom, it is NOT true).

  • A long, slender snake that on average reaches 2.8 meters as a mature adult.
  • The colour is light to dark grey or various shades of brown or olive.
  • Some have light bands on the rear part of the body.
  • The belly is light grey or white and can be plain or sometimes heavily mottled towards the tail.
  • The inside of the mouth is inkyblack (this is where it gets its name from).
  • When threatened, it rears the front third of the body, gapes the mouth, revealing the black lining.
  • The hollow “hiss” is best heeded.

This snakes’ venom is highly Neurotoxic and a bite should be considered a medical emergency.

Immediate and urgent medical assistance will be necessary.

  • Symptoms will appear within minutes and full paralysis can set in less than an hour. Small children may become paralysed in a few minutes.
  • Minimal to mild swelling.
  • Pain can be minimal to mild.
  • One of the first symptoms to appear will be a feeling of “pinsandneedles at the bite site and later around the lips.
  • Metallic taste in the mouth.
  • The victim will have difficulty in focusing his/her eyes.
  • The arms and legs will become weak.
  • Speech may be slurred.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Difficulty to swallow.
  • Increased salivation.
  • Severe thirst.
  • The chest will feel tight and painful and the victim may find it difficult to breath.

The victim may need assistance to breath as the lungs may become paralysed.

  • Remember to remain calm.
  • Gently wash the bite site with water, NOTHING else.
  • Remove rings, jewellery and other restrictive clothing or shoes.
  • Draw a ring around the bite site.
  • Write the time the bite occurred next to the bite site.
  • Keep the affected limb below the height of the heart.
  • If you are close to a medical facility, immobilise the affected limb with a splint and apply a broad pressure bandage from the bite site up the limb.
  • Please note that both these conditions need to be met in order for this method to be effective.
  • Apply a broad band tourniquet around the highest part of the affected limb, only if you are far from a hospital.
  • Minimize all movement of the patient and affected limb.
  • Immediately transport the victim to a medical facility.
  • The tourniquet must not be removed before the antivenom therapy has started.

Black Mamba Protocol

ESWATINI'S SPITTING SNAKES

Moz Spitting Cobra
Hemachatus-haemachatus_Rhinkals_Tyrone_Ping_2019-24

The Mozambique Spitting Cobra (Mfeti) and the Rinkhals (Phemphetfwane) are Eswatini’s only two snakes that can spit or spray their venom.

Although they both spit their venom, they will both not hesitate to bite if they feel threatened or are hurt.

Spitting snakes can “spray” their venom up to a distance of 2.5m or twice the length of their body.

The effect is instant.

The following symptoms may be apparent:

  • Severe burning pain, much like soap but much more intense and persistent.
  • Red eyes that will be tearing profusely.
  • Severe pain.
  • Blurry vision.
  • Swelling of the eye lid and surrounding tissue.
  • Possible conjunctivitis (inflammation) of the eyes.

Red, inflamed eye caused by the venom of aMfeti

Venom in the eyes or mouth is NOT life threatening and NO antivenom is needed.

  • Do NOT rub your eyes.
  • Wash the eyes with a lot of cool water as soon as possible for up to 20 minutes. Anything that will not harm the eyes can also be used. If water is not available use anything like beer, minerals, tea and even urine. It is NOT true that milk is the best treatment. In fact,milk is not a good option at all !!
  • Then rinse the mouth, wash the whole face and any other exposed body parts.
  • Mop the eyes softly in an outward direction.
  • Blow the nose carefully.
  • Venom in the eyes is very painful and alarming, so be calm and firm when dealing with the patient.

Once the eyes have been washed, the patient must go to a doctor to have the eyes checked for damage.

Spitting Snakes Protocol