Kruger Park Reptiles

© Kruger Park snakes © Graham Cooke
There are 54 species of snakes found in Kruger Park, only nine of which are deadly poisonous. Although the black mamba is often portrayed as the most dangerous snake in Africa, 90% of bites to humans are actually by the Mozambique spitting cobra and the puff adder.The largest African snake - the python - is fairly common, but difficult to see. It can grow up to five metres in length and kills its prey by wrapping its body around the victim and crushing it. It's very rare to come across snakes in Kruger, even during the guided wilderness walks.

Snakes tend to shy away from humans and only attack if they're caught by surprise. Nonetheless, one should be cautious at camps and lookout points. If you come across a snake in a camp, please alert the camp staff immediately.

The Killer Snakes of Kruger

African Rock PythonAfrican Rock Python (Python sebae)


Largest snake in Africa - up to 5m long; crushes its prey to death; generally nocturnal but seen during the day


Dassies, hares, cane rats, birds; has been known to take impala and young antelope and warthogs


Mixed woodlands near water; very good tree climbers

Egyptian CobraEgyptian Cobra (Naja haje)


Largest cobra, approx 1,5m long; when disturbed it rears up and displays a broad hood; very fast moving striker with toxic venom


Small mammals, birds and their eggs, frogs


Mixed woodlands near water



Black MambaBlack Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis)


One of the most poisonous snakes in Africa; about 2m long; very fast strikers and can slither at speeds of up to 15km/h


Birds, rodents, dassies and other small animals


Dry lowveld bush; lives in abandoned termite hills, animal holes and among rocks; loves basking in the sun

Puff AdderPuff Adder (Bitis arietans)


Responsible for more human bites than all other African snakes combined - most attacks are because it is trodden on; front fangs make venom delivery extremely effective; sluggish, fat snake about 1,5m long


Rodents, birds, other snakes; a puff adder has once been recorded killing a tortoise


Very fond of lying in the sun; found in all Kruger habitats - one of the most widely distributed snakes in Africa


Mozambique Spitting CobraMozambique Spitting Cobra (Naja mossambica peters)


One of the most poisonous snakes in Africa; rears up two-thirds of its body length when disturbed, displays hood and spits venom with amazing accuracy (they can spit venom into the eyes of an aggressor three metres away);average length approximately 1m


Birds' eggs, small mammals and reptiles


Mixed savanna woodland; favours hollow trees and abandoned burrows near water

Twig SnakeTwig Snake (Thelotornis capensis)


Slender, fast-moving tree snake about 1,3m long; can stay motionless for long periods of time; well camouflaged and very poisonous


Birds and their nestlings and eggs


Mixed woodland near water

BoomslangBoomslang (Dispholidus typus)


Highly venomous, greenish tree snake, about 1,5m long


Birds' eggs, small mammals and reptiles


Thick woodlands near water

Other notable reptiles in Kruger are two species of monitor lizards (leguaans), the water and the rock monitors. The water leguaan can be up to two metres long and is found at permanent water sources in Kruger. It feeds mainly on fish, crabs, mussels, small animals and birds.

Rock monitors can be found quite far from water in rocky outcrops and crevices. They grow up to 1,5m and feed on small mammals, birds, eggs, other reptiles and insects.

Illustration: Chris Snaddon

Africa Snake Guide

African Rock Python

The African Rock Python is Africa's largest snake. There is a large spearhead mark on the crown of the head; dark and light bands radiating ...more

Black Mamba

A large, streamlined snake with a narrow, coffin-shaped head and smooth scales. The back is uniform gunmetal to olive-brown, but never real...more

Brown House Snake

Brown House Snake [Lamprophis capensis]. A large house snake with an obvious head and small body scales. It is uniform red-brown in colour....more

Cape Wolf Snake

The Cape Wolf Snake is a small snake that grows larger in the southern part of its range. It has a flattened head. Colouration is usually un...more

Egyptian Cobra

Egyptian Cobras may be a uniform light brown, black, or a light yellowish brown colour. The Egyptian Cobra is found throughout North Africa ...more

Olive Grass Snake

The Olive Grass Snake is a large, robust snake with a non-flattened snout and a long tail. The back is olive-brown (paler towards the tail),...more

Puff Adder

Puff Adder [Bitis arietans]. The Puff Adder is an aggressive snake and is known to attack with little warning. Puff Adder venom is cytotoxic...more

Red Lipped Snake

The Red Lipped Snake is a small snake with a broad, obvious head and a short tail. The scales are in 19 rows at midbody and are dull; the he...more

Rhombic Egg Eater

The Rhombic Egg-Eater is a slender, solid snake with a small, rounded head. The tail is short; males have shorter tails. The back is slate-g...more

Spotted Bush Snake

Spotted Bush Snake [Philothamnus semivariegatus]. A very slender snake with a flat, distinct head and a long tail. The body is bright green...more

Vine Snake

Southern Vine Snake, Twig Snake, Bird Snake [Thelotornis capensis capensis]. This extremely thin snake has a lance-shaped head and large eye...more
Kruger National Park - South African Safari