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Handling the elusive Vine Snake with Venom Defender Gloves

We are absolutely delighted to present to you an incredible article from Paul L Lloyd about the elusive Vine Snake (Thelotornis kirtlandi).

Also referred to as the Bird snake and Twig snake (Thelotornis capensis, Thelotornis capensis oatsii), Paul gives a delightful insight into this majestic creature. Paul visits schools in an effort to educate children, which hopefully results in the survival of this species long into the future.

Enjoy his article and the visuals of him handling it with our Venom Defender Gloves...

Bird snake, Vine snake, Twig snake                        
(Thelotornis capensis, Thelotornis kirtlandi, Thelotornis capensis oatsii)    

Known by all three of the common names in various parts of Southern and Central Africa, there are two distinct species. The Vine snake is generally encountered in woodland, thick bush or savannah. It’s a long slender snake in varying shades of brown, with darker bars across the body and with a unique, sharply elongated head which may be green or brown on the dorsal part and sometimes the whole head. The most common of the three species in the North Western Province of Zambia is Oat’s Vine Snake, as opposed to the Kirtland’s Vines snake (green head) which occurs more towards the east. Oat’s or the Savannah Vine snake, is green on the dorsal part of the head with a distinct brown “Y” shaped pattern. The “arms” of the “Y” point towards each of the eyes.

This snake is fairly unique in that it has excellent vision and eyes with horizontal pupils, shaped like key holes and is believed to be equipped with binocular vision for spotting prey from a distance.

Vine snakes often frequent bushes and low down branches of trees, which enable them to strike at ground living prey. Their diet consists of tree frogs, lizards, chameleons, small rodents and sometimes other snakes.

This snake can drape itself over branches and remain still for hours with up to a third of the front part of its body unsupported. Body colouring makes it perfectly camouflaged and very difficult to spot. Grows to a length of about 1.2m and may sometimes reach 1.5m.

Being an elusive snake it is almost never encountered near human habitation. Has the same venom and venom delivery system as the Boomslang (African Tree Snake) and is also a rear fanged snake. The venom is considered just as potent but extremely slow acting. Like the Boomslang, will inflate its neck and part of its body when agitated, revealing black skin between the scales.

When captured or intimidated vine snakes tend to be quite aggressive and will not hesitate to bite. Fortunately they are quite a slow striker and also has to work to embed the fangs situated at the rear of the mouth.

Vine snakes have quite an impressive looking tongue; bright orange with a black tip. As opposed to other snakes, where the tongue flickers rapidly, vine snakes appear more leisurely with the appearance of using the tongue to mimic a worm so as to lure birds. According to the experts this is not so; Vine snakes do not favour birds as prey.

Vine snakes lay from 5 to 12 eggs at the start of wet season (November).

Related Product

Venom Defender Gloves

For more detailed information contact Paul Lloyd (

Disclaimer; We at Snake Professional & 1-2-1 (Animal Handling) Products do NOT advise this method of handling and doing so is at the handlers own risk!


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