Serpentine Battle at Banoka Bush Camp

Jan 3, 2013 Banoka Bush Camp
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Sighting: Another Banoka Battle
Location: Banoka Bush Camp, Khwai Concession, Botswana
Date: 4 January 2013
Photographer: Lopang Lopezio Rampeba
Observers: Lopang Rampeba

We are all familiar with snakes, and their lack of limbs - but these interesting and charismatic creatures have evolved specific methods of obtaining food and prey. While some constrict their prey, much in the same fashion as pythons, boas and the like, many serps (short for serpents) rely on a deadly injection of venom into the bloodstream of their prey to quickly subdue and in some cases, kick-start the process of digesting the prey from the inside out. Such a sight - to witness a strike and envenomation taking place and the prey expiring as the deadly concoction of chemicals courses through its veins - is rare and really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I was lucky to experience this, when I came across an olive grass snake showing an interest in a stripe-bellied sand snake. Sand snakes are known for their speed and agility and they also carry mild venom. The grass snake took its opportunity - it rapidly bit the sand snake and coiled around it to prevent it from escaping. The entwined snakes wrestled on the floor - this speeding up the process of envenomation as the prey snake's elevated heart rate would circulate the venom quicker through its body.

The tussle continued for around five minutes, until the sand snake succumbed to the venom. Once the grass snake was certain that its prey was dead, it loosened its grip and dragged the prize into the thickets - but not before I managed to snap a few photos.

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