Tourist films rare and strange snake behavior

Published March 28, 2019 2,093 Views

Rumble / Wild WildlifeDuring a recent stay in the Kruger National Park we decided to go for an early morning walk through the rest camp we were staying at. While we were spending time watching birds, my wife suddenly noticed a snake moving across the pathway no too far ahead of us. We decided to go closer and see what type of snake it was. It was a hot summers day which usually leads to high snake activity in the African bush. It was a long thin green snake and we easily identified as a spotted bush snake. The spotted bush snake is an alert, day-active snake that climbs well and is often found between the walls and ceilings of outbuildings, where it hunts for geckos and frogs.

Their favorite prey is geckos. This fetish for geckos brings these little snakes into direct conflict with humans daily. They will go wherever their food can be found and more often than not, it’s into human habitats. When disturbed, these snakes move very quickly in the opposite direction and can vanish into the smallest spaces. They are harmless to humans. The spotted bush snake is also very common in the Kruger National Park. Knowing all of these common facts about them, we noticed that this specific bush snake displayed no common behavior at all. It was behaving in the most bizarre manner. It started with some outrageous dance-like body movements. The snake was throwing around the top half of its body all over the place while hanging down from a small bridge on the pathway. It suddenly stopped acting weird. The snake was just hanging there for a short while. After that, all was normal again and the snake comfortably slithered away like nothing happened and like we were not even there. We were totally confused by this behavior and have never seen anything like this before.

Since our encounter with the strange behaving snake, we have asked various snake experts about this unusual behavior we managed to capture on film. The most popular theory for this behavior was the possibility of a parasite inside the snake that alters its behavior. It is the kind of behavior you get when certain parasites change their host’s behavior to make it more likely that the host will be eaten in order for the parasite to complete its life cycle inside another host. It was very interesting to learn that these behavioral changing parasites have been studied inside various animal species but no one is hundred percent sure if that was the case with this spotted bush snake. Many experts believe there could be various other causes for this behavior and in the end the behavior was described as abnormal and very seldom seen. In the end we like to see it as just one of the many wonderful mysteries Mother Nature keeps to herself.

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