Walking in the garden yesterday morning, I noticed all the chickens gathered in one spot on the lawn, necks outstretched and a general look of alarm and consternation on all their faces. Upon closer inspection, I found this little juvenile African Mole snake (Pseudaspis cana), equally alarmed at being surrounded by such a curious audience.
I didn't have my camera with me, and besides which I feared the chickens might attack and hurt him, so I had to pick him up and go inside to get the camera. I apologise for the pics not being better, but it's rather difficult working a camera with a zoom lens with one hand! After these couple of photos, I carried him to outside the garden wall and released him in the long grass on our smallholding. It's no guarantee he'll be safe there either, the closest trees where he might find some birds' eggs is either our blue gum bush further down the plot or the neighbour's garden.
Before I had chickens, I always used to leave them in the garden where I was sure they would be quite safe until they decided to move on. This little chap is about 30cm long and they reach a length of up to 2m.
Mole snakes give birth to live young), gives birth to between 25 and 50 young (or up to 95 in rare cases) in late summer. They have been known to live for 20 years in captivity.
PS: Never pick up any snakes, even small ones, if you're not 100% sure of what it is!
Molslang [Afrikaans]; Inkwakhwa [Xhosa]; uBhulube, umJungendlu [Zulu]