Snakes alive! 'Gariep monster' turns out to be puff adder

2017-05-24 13:32
The puff adder swimming in the Gariep Dam. (Julie Lundt via Netwerk24)

The puff adder swimming in the Gariep Dam. (Julie Lundt via Netwerk24)

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Bloemfontein -  Paddlers at the weekend saw a huge puff adder swimming, seemingly quite effortlessly, for kilometres in the Gariep Dam, near Norvalspont, Netwerk24 reported on Tuesday. 

Julie Lundt posted pictures of the swimming reptile on the Facebook page of Snakes of South Africa. It can be seen quite clearly in the photos that the snake has some way to go to the opposite bank of the dam.  

She wanted to know from experts it is really was a puff adder and how far they can swim.

“We didn’t spend too much time close to it, because we didn’t want it to be become stressed. It seemed as if it was heading towards the opposite bank, which was some way to go.   

Luke Kemp, a snake expert, confirmed that it definitely had been a puff adder.

“Most snakes can swim fairly well and puff adders are very lively snakes. With regard to distance, they can swim and then float on the water when they get tired.”

The picture elicited a lot of reaction. People wanted to know if snakes also swam at night, whether they swam underwater and if they caught fish.   

One reader dubbed it the “Gariep monster” because he looked like a small Loch Ness monster in the water.

Sleeping snakes

Pieter Vickery writes that snakes can curl themselves up to float on the water and can even fall asleep. 

He said he’d often seen it with snakes which had fallen into a swimming pool. However, he wasn't sure about puff adders.

Stephen Putterill replied that the puff adder would definitely have been able to swim across the Gariep Dam. He had often seen them swimming through dams.

In response to a question by Deon Minnaar, he warned that the snakes could bite people while swimming, although not as well as on land.  

Stephen Moll wrote that puff adders had also been seen in the sea in False Bay.

Johan Marais, a Pretoria snake expert and head of the  African Snakebite Institute, said puff adders could swim for kilometres and float on the surface.

 “It isn’t uncommon. However, they don’t eat fish. Snakes such as pythons, water snakes and cobras swim underwater as well.”

Netwerk24 has also reported on puff adders swimming in the Goukou River near Stilbaai and of the reptiles swimming in the sea off the West Coast.

Marais earlier said snakes can’t hunt in the sea or drink the salt water. 


Read more on:    bloemfontein  |  animals

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