A few weeks ago a group of boys from Union High was invited to the farm of Kevin and Lisa Watermeyer to collect flat rocks for a paving project as a part of their Centenary celebrations. As they lifted a rock they were surprised by what they thought may be a puffadder underneath. The boys took photos and a video of the snake before carefully leaving it alone. When Kevin Watermeyer tried to identify the snake from the photo, he realised that it might be a rarer snake, and s…ent the picture and other information to a conservation group known as ‘Bionerds’. They were delighted to report back that the snake was the elusive “Plain Mountain Adder” – a species with only 11 confirmed records at that time!
The Plain Mountain Adder is a dwarf adder, and has a distinctive triangular shaped head, growing to a maximum of 35cm and heavy bodied. It has plain grey/brown colouration, with indistinctive markings. It is thought that the snake is diurnal, but there is not yet enough research available to confirm this.
‘Bionerds’ is part of research group that visited the Sneeuberg a week prior to Kevin contacting them with his find. In 4 days, with 11 scientists and researchers, they managed to find 3 different snakes, all male. The boys’ find raised the confirmed records to 12 specimens.
According to Bionerds, “Plain mountain adders are data deficient, we still need to learn more about how venomous they are (we think it will be the same as other dwarf adders, causing potential swelling and severe pain), their prey preference, what habitat they prefer and their breeding and living habits.
Should anyone think that they have found a Plain Mountain Adder, or need assistance with a reptile identification, it is important to do the following:
• Take a cellphone photo
• Take a GPS reading
• Note the date and time
• WhattsApp the information to 063 461 5964 or email to email@example.com
The Arthur Kingwill House boys from Union High can be very proud that they were a part of the 12th ever recording of the Plain Mountain Adder, and it is wonderful that the unique biodiversity of the Sneeuberg is treasured by organisations such as Bionerds.
All Landowners should be wary of anyone requesting access to find, research or photograph reptiles on their properties. There is an uprise in reptile poaching incidents in South Africa, and this species is highly sought after. Report and vetoe anyone who requests access, or found illegally on your property to the authorities. You can also contact Bionerds in this regard.