Southern Twig Snake
Facts about Southern Twig Snake. "Scientific name for Southern Twig Snake is Thelotornis Capensis".
The Southern Twig Snake are also referred to as the Bird Snake or Southern Vine Snake. The Bird Snake gets its name from its nearly perfect camouflage and its ability to remain motionless while eerily swaying in the wind, making it difficult to distinguish it from a dry branch. There are four known species of the Twig Snake, the Capensi Capensi, Capensi Oatesi, Capensi Mossambicannus and Capensi Schilsi.
Appearance Southern Twig Snake
With an average height of 3 1/8 feet (1 meter), the Southern Twig Snake is long and thin with a pointed, green, lance-shaped head and a grayish-brown body. Each species also has large eyes with horizontal elliptical pupils, allowing it to have binocular vision. Its tongue is red with a black tip and it has a dark line running between its eyes. Its body scales are feebly keeled in 19 oblique rows at the mid body and it has a thin, seemingly delicate, long tail.
Geographic Range of Southern Twig Snake
This species is native to Southern and Eastern Africa. It can be found in Angola, Burundi, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Somalia, Malawi, Zambia, Swaziland, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa.
Habitat and Ecology of Southern Twig Snake
The Twig Snake favors lowland forests and moist savannas as well as coastal bushes and forests. During the day, yet difficult to spot, it easily blends in among shrubs, bushes and dead trees. Its diet consists mainly of lizards, frogs, chameleons, bats and the occasional small bird or snake. It hunts both in trees and on ground, waiting for its pray, often for long periods, rather than actively hunting. With its binocular vision, it can identify stationary pray, even at a distance. It commonly strikes at terrestrial pray, chewing it briefly to inject it with its venom until the pray succumbs and then swallowing it whole while still hanging downward.
The Twig snake is normally quite timid and will only attack if disturbed. When provoked, it will protrude its red and black tongue and puff up its neck in a threat-display, revealing bold black markings between the scales. It is fed on by birds of prey and larger snakes.
Their cryptic coloration as well as apparent ability to sway gently or even freeze or sway, as chameleons do, make them hard to spot. They are usually more abundant in the areas than is immediately obvious.
Life-cycle of Southern Twig Snake
The males engage in combat during the mating season. The female Twig Snake, which is oviparous; will lay 4 to 13 small, elongated eggs in the summer and produces more than one clutch in each season. Females aggressively protect their eggs during the incubation period and the eggs hatch in the month of March after a 2 to 3 months of incubation. The size of a hatch-ling varies from 9 to 13 inches (230mm to 330mm) in length and .10 to .14 ounces (3-4g) in weight. The twig snake can live for up to 10 years in the wild.
Venom of Southern Twig Snake
This snake is rear-fanged and its bite is highly venomous. Being hemotoxic, the venom of a Twig Snake can disrupt blood clotting and destroy the red blood cells causing internal bleeding and organ failure and copious external bleeding. There is no known antidote to this venom, as such a bite from this snake, though rare, is potentially lethal.