Snake vs Snake: Photographer captures amazing images of a serpentine showdown

Wildlife photographers usually spend hours in the field hunting for that perfect shot, but sometimes the most memorable sightings happen when it’s least expected.

While on a recent trip to South Africa’s Londolozi Private Game Reserve, photographer Sean de la Harpe-Parker was fortunate enough to encounter a unique wildlife sighting just a few short steps away from the lodge where he was staying.

De la Harpe-Parker, 40, was relaxing on a private viewing deck when movement in the bushes below caught his attention. Closer inspection revealed a western stripe-bellied sand snake caught in the venomous fangs of a southern vine snake. It only took an hour for the creature to ɪɴɢᴇsᴛ its innocent ᴠɪᴄᴛɪᴍ, so it was lucky De la Harpe-Parker was nearby with his camera.

De la Harpe-Parker said: “I was just enjoying some down time between game drives, when all of a sudden my eyes were drawn towards the bush in front of me.

“This normally sessile reptile launched itself at lightning speed to get at the agile sand snake, but because the ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ is so potent, it stopped sᴛʀᴜɢɢʟɪɴɢ imminently.”

“I watched, mesmerised as the vine snake then began to ɪɴɢᴇsᴛ the entire sand snake. I loved seeing the small backwards facing fangs at work, and how they assisted in getting the sand snake down. Even how the sand snake’s head was folded at the neck was fascinating to watch.”

“Grabbing my camera from the side table I rushed over and lay down on my stomach to capture one of the most exciting and riveting scenes I have ever witnessed,” de la Harpe-Parker explained via email.

Vine snakes carry a potent haemotoxic ᴠᴇɴᴏᴍ that is not only effective for ᴋɪʟʟɪɴɢ their ᴘʀᴇʏ, but also aids in digestion. The spectacular and agile Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake Psammophis subtaeniatus are often claimed to be the fastest-moving of southern Africa’s snake species. De la Harpe-Parker was surprised that a vine snake could catch such a fast moving sand snake.


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