It was getting late. I was happy with the sighting of three lions on a zebra kill that we had just driven away from. I drove along looking straight ahead as it was already dark and I needed to get out of the park in good time. Suddenly, my car’s lights landed on a large fat object. I swerved and stopped next to it. Wow! It was a fairly large puff adder that is found in the park but not often seen in the road .
Puff adders (Bitis arietans) are venomous snakes found in rocky grasslands over vast areas of Africa. A big one can measure up to 190cm. This species is responsible for more fatalities than any other African snake. The venom has cytotoxic effects, poisoning the blood cells. They normally appear to be sluggish but that is deceptive as they strike very fast and aggressively.
Puff adders are mostly nocturnal and are some of the snakes in Africa that prey on vermin such as rodents. They therefore perform an important role in balancing the ecosystem. If you are ever walking in long grass and your hear a loud hiss, then stand very still and try to see where the snake is. If it is more that a metre away, retreat slowly and call for help.
It is very unusual for a visitor to have an incident with a puff adder in the Nairobi National Park as the Kenya Wildlife Service keeps the grass in the picnic area very short. However, it is always good to be careful. The park is open daily from 6am to 7pm.
For more information on the park, you can link to the following websites www.kws.org or www.nairobigreenline.org or on facebook.