Herpetologists from the National Museum in Bloemfontein report unique puff adder

The unique ‘speckled’ puff adder that was reported after being found in Bloemfontein. PHOTO: Johan Marais

Recently, two herpetologists, Dr Michael Bates and Dr Cora Stobie from the Department of Animal and Plant Systematics at the National Museum in Bloemfontein, along with snake rescuer Jade Hastings from the University of the Free State, published a research note unveiling a rare colour variation in the well-known, and also highly venomous, puff adder (Bitis arietans).

This distinctive find occurred when a young female puff adder was discovered on a property in Langenhoven Park, situated near a natural grassland area. Jade Hastings successfully captured the snake and subsequently presented it to Drs Bates and Stobie. The snake exhibited an extraordinary colour pattern, prompting the researchers to document the specimen. Their findings were then submitted as a research note to the African Journal of Ecology for publication.

While occasional reports of unusual colour patterns in puff adders exist, such as plain brown snakes with a dark stripe down the back, the speckled pattern observed in the Bloemfontein snake was deemed entirely unique, and thus reported.

Compiled by Warren Hawkins