“We went for a walk in the nearby dunes and this chap was hidden in the second small bush I looked under.” - Observation of the Week, 9/15/18

Our Observation of the Week is this Peringuey’s Adder, seen in Namibia by @robert_taylor!

Here’s What Robert Taylor wrote back to me when I told him his Adder had been chosen as Observation of the Week:

“Hi Tony, I am very chuffed that my observation was made observation of the week. I will try and send you more details by the end of today. Sorry being in the bush means that I have very limited reception.”

Besides using a delightful word we Americans aren’t used to hearing, Rob’s email indicates that he’s someone who does a lot of field work and field living, and that has been the case for much of his life.

“I grew up in the bush within the iSimangaliso World Heritage Site, South Africa,” he says. “With my father (also on iNaturalist) as an ecologist I was hooked on conservation from an early age.” Rob now works in the Okavango Delta in Botswana, which is another World Heritage Site, and tells me

I am very keen on my dragonflies and wetland/aquatic ecosystems in general. I work with a small team of ecologists and our projects are very varied from developing management plans for alien invasive plants in the delta, conducting biodiversity surveys, monitoring elephant damage to trees, assisting with rhino re-introductions and fixing Land Rovers.

But while most of Rob’s field work is done in Botswana, the adder you see above was spotted in neighboring Namibia:

My wife and I were on holiday in Swakopmond and we had been meaning to do a ‘living deserts tour’ but we got so distracted by the quaint little German town filled with museums and tasty confectioneries that we left it too late to make a booking. Instead we went for a walk in the nearby dunes and this chap was hidden in the second small bush I looked under. When disturbed he hissed and tried to wiggle into the sand to hide.

With this camouflage you can already tell this is a snake that is well adapted to life in the sand, but take a closer look at its head and check out the placement of its eyes - they’re pretty much right on top of its head! As Rob noted, the snake tried to hide in the sand, and that is how it often spends much of its time throughout its range in Namibia and Angola . Having eyes so high up on its head allows it bury itself almost completely, allowing it to either take refuge from predators (and the sun) and also ambush passing lizards, which make up most of its diet. It’s been noted that Peringuey’s Adders that have dark tails will use them as caudal lures, which is awesome. Like other Adders it is part of the Viperidae family, meaning it has retractable fangs and (mostly) hemotoxic venom to help subdue and pre-digest its prey.

iSpot and now iNat have expanded my interests hugely to include a wide range of taxa - from ants to carnivorous plants - and I learn new things every day. IDing other people’s African dragonflies and damselflies has also helped me hone my dragonfly ID skills even of species I have never seen in person. I love the community and the discussions which we have. I recently built myself a light trap to attract moths and longhorn beetles - interests sparked by other enthusiasts on iNat.

- by Tony Iwane.

- Watch some amazing footage of a Peringuey’s Adder catching and eating a lizard, as well as burying itself in the sand! 

- And here’s a nice shot of one buried in the sand - watch the grains move as it breathes.

- Hearken back to a previous Observation of the Week which had a desert viper using a caudal lure as its subject - the amazing Spider-tailed Horned Viper! 

Posted by tiwane tiwane, September 16, 2018 05:09



Wow, wonderful stuff! Thank you Robert!

Posted by susanhewitt over 1 year ago (Flag)

Nice one Robert. Swakopmund is a great diversion from delta and Maun life too.

Posted by muir over 1 year ago (Flag)

Great stuff Robert! Well done and thanks.

Posted by bushboy over 1 year ago (Flag)

Keep it up Robert!!

Posted by andrewdeacon over 1 year ago (Flag)

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