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Durban: Snake Prevention Control

As pest managers, we have to ensure we effectively manage nuisance pests that can cause major damage to our properties, or certain health risks and diseases among humans and animals. We need to remember that pests are dependent on three primary factors to survive:

  • Food

  • Water

  • Shelter and harbourage

  • Snakes: Spray repellent around perimeter of area to be protected

*IMPORTANT: Prevention is better than cure!

Snakes do serve a vital role in our ecology and there are many species of snakes in Durban and the greater KwaZulu-Natal area. Many of these specifies are semi or non-venomous (Harmless)… However, if you do come across a snake, it is best to leave it alone – Particularly if you know little or nothing about snakes. Given the opportunity, most snakes will try to move off without having to defend themselves, so try not to corner them. If they are a concern, rather contact a professional to assist with their safe removal. Please keep animals and children away, keep a close eye on the snake’s whereabouts and advise your professional snake wrangler of the the snake’s location when they arrive. We strongly advise that you do not try to catch or kill the snake, as it is best if you and the snake are kept out of harms way.

Ibis Projects/ Durban Pest Control Services | Snakes



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KwaZulu-Natal Snakes

There are several snake species in KwaZulu-Natal. Most are harmless and there are a hand full of venomous snakes to be aware of. Below is a list of the most venomous snakes found in KZN – Please keep the ‘Important’ notice above in mind, particularly with these species of snake…

  • Black Mamba – Highly Venomous: A large snake, averaging 2,2m-2,5m in length. Not the aggressive killers that they’re made out to be. Very shy and nervous, and will always flee if given half a chance. Common in valley areas. Mainly feeds on rodents and dassies (hyrax).

  • Green Mamba – Highly Venomous: Restricted to the KZN coastline. Can get quite large and are a beautiful, plain emerald green colour. Not often seen, and are shy like its cousin. Feeds on birds, rodents and lizards.

  • Mozambique Spitting Cobra, aka ‘Mfezi’ – Highly Venomous: Plain brown on top, with orange and black bands underneath the neck region. Usually a salmon-pink colour underneath. Can spray its venom 2-3m, so don’t get too close! Feeds on toads, rats and sometimes other snakes.

  • Vine/Twig Snake – Highly venomous: Very common, but rarely seen, for obvious reasons! Bites are very rare. Feed on chameleons, other lizards, smaller snakes (such as bush snakes) and nestling birds.

  • Boomslang – Highly venomous: Males are a beautiful green colour with black bands. Feeds on nestling birds, chameleons and other lizards. May take small rodents. Females are light brown in colour. Can resemble a mamba. Boomslang have almost have a rugby ball-shaped head, with large eyes, unlike the mamba with a more slender head. Juvenile Boomslang are also Highly venomous. That big green eye is very distinctive! All juveniles look like this upon hatching, and change colour as they grow.

  • Puff Adder – Highly Venomous: Found more inland of Durban, as well as North and South of Durban. Common in the Midlands, Drakensberg and Zululand. Feeds mainly on rodents, but also eats toads.

*IMPORTANT: Please have a look at the images provided as per the source link (button) below. Also take note of the snakes that are considered ‘Venomous’, but not lethal, and those that are considered harmless species.


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Common Snake Venoms

There are generally four primary types of snake venom that exit. Snake venoms are complex mixtures of proteins, and are stored in venom glands at the back of the head. In all venomous snakes, these glands open through ducts into grooved or hollow teeth in the upper jaw. These proteins can potentially be a mix of neurotoxins, hemotoxins, cytotoxins, bungarotoxins and many other toxins that affect the body in different ways. Almost all snake venom contains hyaluronidase, an enzyme that ensures rapid diffusion of the venom.

  • Neurotoxins: Are toxins that are poisonous or destructive to nerve tissue (causing neurotoxicity). Neurotoxins are an extensive class of exogenous chemical neurological insults that can adversely affect function in both developing and mature nervous tissue.

  • Hemotoxins: Hemotoxins, haemotoxins or hematotoxins are toxins that destroy red blood cells (that is, cause hemolysis), disrupt blood clotting, and/or cause organ degeneration and generalized tissue damage. The term hemotoxin is to some degree a misnomer since toxins that damage the blood also damage other tissues. Injury from a hemotoxic agent is often very painful and can cause permanent damage and in severe cases death. Loss of an affected limb is possible even with prompt treatment.

  • Cytotoxins: Cytotoxicity is the quality of being toxic to cells. Examples of toxic agents are an immune cell or some types of venom, e.g. from the puff adder (Bitis arietans) or brown recluse spider (Loxosceles reclusa).

  • Bungarotoxin: Are a group of closely related neurotoxic proteins of the three-finger toxin superfamily found in the venom of kraits including Bungarus multicinctus. α-Bungarotoxin inhibits the binding of acetylcholine (ACh) to nicotinic acetylcholine receptors; β- and γ-bungarotoxins act presynaptically causing excessive acetylcholine release and subsequent depletion. Both α and β forms have been characterized, the α being similar to the long or Type II neurotoxins from other elapid venoms.

More About Snakes

Snakes are elongated, legless, carnivorous reptiles of the suborder Serpentes. Like all squamates, snakes are ectothermic, amniote vertebrates covered in overlapping scales. Many species of snakes have skulls with several more joints than their lizard ancestors, enabling them to swallow prey much larger than their heads with their highly mobile jaws. To accommodate their narrow bodies, snakes’ paired organs (such as kidneys) appear one in front of the other instead of side by side, and most have only one functional lung. Some species retain a pelvic girdle with a pair of vestigial claws on either side of the cloaca. Lizards have evolved elongate bodies without limbs or with greatly reduced limbs about twenty five times indepenently via convergent evolution, leading to many lineages of legless lizards and snakes. Legless lizards resemble snakes, but several common groups of legless lizards have eyelids and external ears, which snakes lack, although this rule is not universal (see Amphisbaenia, Dibamidae, and Pygopodidae).

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, and on most smaller land masses; exceptions include some large islands, such as Ireland, Iceland, Greenland, the Hawaiian archipelago, and the islands of New Zealand, and many small islands of the Atlantic and central Pacific oceans. Additionally, sea snakes are widespread throughout the Indian and Pacific Oceans. More than 20 families are currently recognized, comprising about 520 genera and about 3,600 species. They range in size from the tiny, 10.4 cm (4.1 in)-long thread snake to the reticulated python of 6.95 meters (22.8 ft) in length. The fossil species Titanoboa cerrejonensis was 12.8 meters (42 ft) long. Snakes are thought to have evolved from either burrowing or aquatic lizards, perhaps during the Jurassic period, with the earliest known fossils dating to between 143 and 167 Ma ago. The diversity of modern snakes appeared during the Paleocene period (c 66 to 56 Ma ago). The oldest preserved descriptions of snakes can be found in the Brooklyn Papyrus.

Most species are nonvenomous and those that have venom use it primarily to kill and subdue prey rather than for self-defense. Some possess venom potent enough to cause painful injury or death to humans. Nonvenomous snakes either swallow prey alive or kill by constriction.


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