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STILETTO SNAKES (Mole Vipers, Burrowing Asps): Expect the Unexpected

Found in Africa, Stiletto Snakes (Atractaspis) are well-suited for their underground life. Burrowing through the earth, They look for a tasty Lizard. Finding one, Stiletto Snakes stab the unfortunate animal with their fangs, and then eat Him. These Snakes can kill without opening their mouths. Highly venomous, Stiletto Snakes possess huge venom sacs. Because They live underground, Stiletto Snakes are only encountered by people when they dig in their gardens.

Because of their large horizontal fangs, Stiletto Snakes can strike sideways and backwards. With a jerk of their heads, these Snakes kill by a sideways stab of their fangs. (Unlike other venomous Snakes, these Snakes stab their victims instead with their fangs.) The stabbing injects the venom, earning these Snakes the name “stiletto”. Although these Snakes are venomous, They are not considered to be Vipers. Causing much taxonomic confusion among scientists because of their unusual fangs, Stiletto Snakes have been placed in their own family for the time being.

Be prepared and on guard counsel Stiletto Snakes. Instead of striking forwards, these distinctive Snakes will stab backwards. Be wary or you will suffer the consequences, for there is no known antidote for their venom. Irascible by nature, Stiletto Snakes will stab quickly and often sideways and backwards. Expect the unexpected hiss Stiletto Snakes.

Picture is of Bibron's Stiletto Snake from the African Snake Bite Institute.

The African Snake Bite Institute has first aid guides to all the venomous snakes in Africa including various species of stiletto snakes. 

From their site: advice for any place that has venomous snakes: 

–  Leave snakes alone and treat them with respect at all times.
–  Do not handle even small snakes. Young venomous snakes are just as dangerous as the adults.
–  Never tamper with a seemingly dead snake, as many have the nasty habit of playing dead when scared or threatened, only to strike out the moment an opportunity arises.
–  Wear boots and thick trousers or jeans if you spend a great deal of time outdoors. Hunters, hikers, birders and fishermen should consider wearing snake gaiters that protect the lower leg.
–  Step onto logs and rocks and never over them. Snakes often sun themselves while partially concealed under a log or rock.
–  Never put your hands in out-of- sight places, especially when mountain climbing.
–  Do not try to kill or catch a snake if you come across one. Throwing rocks or shooting at a snake is looking for trouble. Also do not attempt to catch a snake with braai tongs or pin it and grab it behind the head. Some snakes, such as the Stiletto Snake, cannot be held safely behind the head and you will certainly get bitten if you try.
–  In case of a snakebite emergency, do not attempt to catch or kill the snake – rather take a photograph from a safe distance, to assist with identification.

Read more at African Snakebite Institute:

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Virginia Carper, a Roman Polytheist, lives in the Washington D.C. area with her family. She navigates life with a traumatic brain injury which gives her a different view on life. An avid naturalist since childhood, she has a blog called “Nature’s Observations.” Having experienced the animals directly, she teaches on-line classes about the spiritual and natural aspect of animals. She has published articles on her brain injury, Roman polytheism, and working with extinct animals. In addition her writings on animals (including dragons and other mythic creatures) can be purchased her book site, Animal Teachers.  


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