After what felt like a long wait the day of our field trip finally arrived. We headed out to Stone Hill Lodge and arrived a few seconds before the gate was opened for us to enter. Our group then moved up to the chalet that was reserved for us. We moved into the field at 8:30am.
Within the first half an hour one of our members “Wikus” caught a young Brown House snake which measured approx 25cm long. It was clear that the snake had eaten very recently due to a huge lump in its stomach. The snake was in a very good condition and after photos were taken, the snake was released where it was found and some more photos were taken as it slithered off.
Photo by Wikus Olivier
Shortly after another member “Herman” came across a shed snake skin. It was a fair size shed skin from a snake with keeled scales. We originally identified the shed skin as belonging to a Rinkhals. One further psychical examination of the skin, triangular shaped markings became apparent. As Rinkhals do not have these patterns the skin was reclassified as belonging to a Puff Adder.Photos were taken and the shed skin was then put down and left behind as we moved on.
Photo by Andre Lourens
A few lizards were observed as we moved along but to get them to pose for a photo or two was a difficult task. They would appear for a second or two and were then gone again. Craig came across two burrowing scorpions whilst lifting stones. These were also left where they were found.
Much later during the day, Craig had a quick glimpse of a possible Rhombic Skaapsteker, but due to the snake’s speed and us being caught unawares by the sighting, the snake got away.
Wayne and myself moved to a spot where a few 44 gallon drums were standing. Although very hot, Wayne and myself managed to tilt the drums to see what was underneath. We found a juvenile Herald snake under the drum. The snake seemed to have been attacked by another animal since there were a number of small open wounds on its body. The snake’s mouth was also partially opened but its tongue still flickered vigorously. After photos were taken, the snake was released at the same spot into a bush.
Photo by Andre Lourens
From the barn, we moved up to a rocky area and although no more snakes were found, another shed skin from a Puff Adder was found. The shedding was left at the spot where it was found.
After this we moved to our designated cottage, where a short meeting was held. After the meeting a fire was started to enjoy a braai and some time was spent relaxing and chatting.
This field trip was a huge success regarding the findings – 2 live specimens and 2 shed skins. There is definitely snake activity at this venue. The time spend in the field and outdoors, were well spent and enjoyed by the few members that were present.
Hopefully, the next field trip will reveal even more reptiles and I am already looking forward to another day in the field.
By Andre Lourens