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Southern Vine Snake Kills Skink

by Kate Neill on March 5, 2013

in Wildlife Diary

Post image for Southern Vine Snake Kills Skink

It is not often that camp staff can outshine the rangers with regards to the wildlife and sightings. Every now and then, however, we are able to trump them with the what we see in and around camp.
Two days ago Jess Watt and Nadia de Kock were fortunate enough to see a kill; this was not the normal ‘kill’ that would come to mind, but rather an incredibly rare sighting of a Southern Vine snake catching a rainbow skink. Thankfully Jess Watt was able to grab her camera in time to get a few shots of the snake swallowing its prey. The entire incident lasted for about 25 minutes, I hope the pictures have you as mesmerized as Jess and Nadia were…

Tongue

The tongue of a snake is not used for taste as you would imagine but rather for smell

Tongue

The snake is seen extending its tongue out – Jess has captured the movement in this picture well

Swallowing the lizard

The lower jaw of most snakes is made up of two bones that are connected by an elastic, or stretchy, tissue, so the snake can open its mouth very wide (several times as big as its own head), accommodating a relatively large animal.. often the prey is bigger than the jaw of the snake

 

Notice the bulge half way down the snakes body

Notice the bulge halfway down the snakes body. The snake is incredibly vulnerable while digesting its prey as it cannot move as quickly

Snake having swallowed and digested the lizard

In this picture you can see the snake having already digested the lizard and is back to its original shape. The Vine snake is also known as the Twig snake for its resemblance to small branches on trees.

Luckily it was only the skink that the snake was interested in, as Vine Snakes have a potentially lethal haemotoxic venom for which there is no known antidote. The fact that the species is only rarely encountered and the venom is slow acting means that critical bites hardly ever occur.

Written by Kate Neill

Photographed by Jess Watt

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Rich Laburn March 5, 2013 at 14:20

Very cool sighting, reminds me of a two incredible snake encounters which David Dampier experienced in November 2011. Take a look…

http://blog.londolozi.com/2011/11/two-incredible-snake-encounters/

Reply

Arden Zalman March 5, 2013 at 19:16

Fascinating watching Mother Nature

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Merle March 6, 2013 at 00:12

Not only were the photos fabulous, but I learned it wasn’t a typo…that a skink is a small lizard. It would really have been something if there had been a skunk at Londolozi. The link photos were also phenomenal.

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Evette Hartig March 6, 2013 at 00:13

Snakes around camp? Oh no, please tell me they are dormant in August/September. Especially love the part about the venom with no known antidote.

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Kate Neill March 6, 2013 at 08:57

Hi Evette,

You are coming to Londolozi at the perfect time of year if you are a bit weary of snakes! The snakes dont like the cold at all so winter is perfect for you!

Looking forward to your next visit!
Regards,
Kate

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Jenifer Westphal March 6, 2013 at 04:17

Go Jess and Nadia! A big hello from the Westphals!

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Jess March 9, 2013 at 14:50

Hello! Hope you are all so well…

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Louise Taback March 6, 2013 at 08:16

Wow nice pictures!!!!Shoo looks a little scarey!!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

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James Kydd March 6, 2013 at 10:22

Thanks for this Jess and Kate

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