Scaly visitors at Jackal’s Den

This morning Cleo chased this fellow up a tree just outside my bedroom cottage.

The rock monitor (Varanus albigularis), also called the legavaan or white-throated monitor, is a species of monitor lizard found in southern Africa. It is the second longest lizard found on the continent of Africa and the heaviest bodied. They reach 2 meters  in length, although this fellow was only about 1 meter long.  I love seeing them so I need to find a way to stop Cleo going a little berserk when they come to visit.

On another scaly matter, we have a resident black mamba that has decided to become our gate guard.  It has been spotted on quite a few occasions now, about 5 meters outside of our main reserve gate. We are being very, very careful now when we alight from our vehicles to open and close the gate.  Although we use torches at night, it does feel a little creepy when it’s dark and I try to get back in my car quite fast.

I snapped a picture of his tail yesterday afternoon.

My apologies for the poor quality of the picture – I had to take it fast before he/she moved off and it was taken through my dirty windscreen.

Here is some information from Wikipedia which may explain why we get a little nervous of him.

The black mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis), also called the common black mamba or black-mouthed mamba, is the longest venomous snake in Africa, averaging around 2.5 to 3.2 meters (8.2 to 10 ft) in length, and sometimes growing to lengths of 4.45 meters (14.6 ft). Its name is derived from the black colouration inside the mouth rather than the actual colour of its scales which varies from dull yellowish-green to a gun-metal grey. It is the fastest snake in the world, capable of moving at 4.32 to 5.4 metres per second (16–20 km/h, 10–12 mph). It is a notorious snake that’s feared throughout the world. It has a reputation for being very aggressive and highly venomous. Many herpetologists have cited this species as both the world’s deadliest and most aggressive, noting a tendency to attack without provocation. They are among the world’s ten most venomous land snakes, and when threatened or cornered they become fiercely aggressive, which is why they are given mythical status.

Although it would much rather avoid confrontation and flee from any perceived threat, the black mamba can be extremely aggressive if badgered long and hard enough, during breeding season, when defending territory or an egg nest, or if cornered with no escape, it will stand its ground and display fearsome tenacity and explosive aggression while hissing loudly and striking repeatedly. No other snake in the continent is as loathed, and yet respected and feared at the same time.

The black mamba is known to be capable of reaching speeds of around 20 kilometers per hour (12 mph), traveling with up to a third of its body raised off the ground.

Although only 10 to 15 mg of it’s venom is deadly to a human adult, its bite delivers about 100–120 mg of venom on average,but they can deliver up to over 400 mg of venom in a single bite. Its bite is often called “the kiss of death” because before antivenom was widely available, the mortality rate from a bite was 100%. Severe black mamba envenomation can potentially kill a human within 20 minutes or less depending on the nature of the bite and the area bitten, but death usually occurs after 30–60 minutes on average, sometimes taking up to three hours. British wildlife enthusiast Nathan Layton was bitten in Hoedspruit, a small town near Kruger National Park, by a juvenile black mamba and died in less than 30 minutes after being bitten.


If he does not move away in the next few weeks we will probably have him relocated to a more remote area of the farm.


12 thoughts on “Scaly visitors at Jackal’s Den

  1. Hmmm… monitor interesting, but snake…..glad you took pic through the windscreen! Safe travels in the gateway. He? She? Will that make a difference? Yep, I’d be nervous. Fingers crossed for all of you there.♥


  2. Mmmmm, I think, much like Homo sapiens, the female is generally the grumpier of the sexes….:-)

    On a lighter note, Jackie, I hope your new gate guard knows who is welcome at Jackal’s den, and who not…. a snake that deserves the utmost respect!


  3. Yikes….so many nasty crawlies to content with – centipedes, snakes, giant lizards…the two venomous snakes in my area are not nearly so deadly, nor (apparently) agressive. Careful out there at night!


  4. Love the pic of the legavaan …

    I also have a black mamba living in a tree close to my house … although they are deadly, there is no more awe-inspiring snake that I know of – especially when they rear their heads – where are you going to find a brave soul to remove it from your gate?


    • Our local reptile park is run by Donald Strydom – a leading snake specialist – he and his team offer to do snake removals and relocations for free. They are great guys and gals – in fact our reptile park here is quite awesome too. I will write about it soon.


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