Boomslang vs Spotted Bush Snake: What are the Differences?

Written by Emmanuel Kingsley
Published: April 16, 2022
© Willem Van Zyl/Shutterstock.com
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Boomslangs and spotted bush snakes are green snakes commonly found in Africa. They are both arboreal snakes, so they usually live in shrubs or trees. As a matter of fact, the name ‘boomslang’ is derived from Dutch and Afrikaans and is translated as “tree snakes” in English. So, as arboreal snakes, both species are hardly found in residential areas and cities. But what is the difference between these two species? Let’s find out the difference between a boomslang vs a spotted bush snake in this article. 

Comparing a Boomslang and a Spotted Bush Snake

A boomslang differs from a spotted bush sake in size and behavior.

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BoomslangSpotted Bush Snake
SizeUsually around 3.4 ft to 4.1ft long.Usually around  1.1 feet to 2.7 feet long.
Scientific NameDispholidus typusPhilothamnus semivariegatus
MorphologyHas a green body with dark patterns distributed horizontally across its body.
Has an egg-shaped head.
Has large completely dark eyes.
Has a green body with green dots spread across its body.
Has a coffin-shaped head.
Has honey-brown toned iris.
BehaviorVenomous.
Protects itself by attacking.
Non-venomous.
Protects itself by hiding.
DietFeeds on a variety of animals.Picky eater.

The Key Difference Between a Boomslang and a Spotted Bush Snake

The most striking difference between a boomslang and a spotted bush snake is size, morphology, and behavior. Boomslangs are longer than their counterparts. They don’t have black spots distributed all over their bodies like spotted green snakes. Besides, they are venomous snakes, unlike the latter. While a boomslang will defend itself by attacking unless a bigger predator faces it, a spotted bush snake will always hide when in danger. But these are not the only differences between these two snakes.

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Let’s find out the differences between these two reptiles in detail.

Boomslang Vs Spotted Bush Snake: Morphology

Boomslangs are one of the most common green snakes in sub-Saharan Africa. They have slender bodies with large eyes perched at the sides of their egg-shaped heads. Typically, the male snakes have bright green bodies with yellow, blue, brown, or black patterns distributed horizontally across the body. The females, however, have a darker green tone with brown underbellies.

In contrast, spotted bush snakes are easily identified as slender, bright green snakes with dark spots distributed like polka dots on their bodies. They are smaller than boomslangs and have coffin-shaped heads instead of the egg-shaped heads of their counterparts. Their underbellies are usually bare with no black dots like the rest of the body and may range from a lighter green shade to yellow. And unlike a boomslang with dark eyes, they have honey-toned iris surrounding their dark pupils.

Boomslang Vs Spotted Bush Snake: Size

boomslang slithering on branch
Boomslangs are longer than spotted bush snakes.

©iStock.com/FroeMic

Generally, boomslangs grow longer than spotted bush snakes, and in fact, you can find a boomslang that is twice as long as a spotted bush snake. In the wild, the average length of a boomslang is between 3.4 feet to 4.1 feet. However, they can grow as long as 6 feet. 

On the other hand, a spotted bush snake is usually about 1.1 feet to 2.7 feet long. Although it isn’t one of the smallest snakes in the world, it is slightly shorter than the average snake. As a matter of fact, spotted bush snakes are extremely lightweight and even lighter than a boomslang. On the contrary, the hatchlings of a spotted bush snake is typically longer than that of a boomslang. While the hatchling of a boomslang is about 7.9  inches in length, that of its counterpart is about 9.8 inches in length.

Boomslang Vs Spotted Bush Snake: Scientific name

Both the boomslang and the spotted bush snake are from the Colubridae family. However, they belong to a different genus. Boomslangs belong to the Dispholidus genus, and their species is known as Dispholidus typus. Unfortunately, they are the only surviving species in their genus. They are called boomslangs because they are tree snakes, as the name translates in English.

On the other hand, the spotted bush snake belongs to the Philothamus genus, and their species is Philothamus semivariegatus. Apart from being called ‘spotted bush snake,’ other names attributed to this species are spotted green snake and variegated green snake. Apparently, they derive their name from their physical appearance. 

Boomslang Vs Spotted Bush Snake: Behavior

Spotted bush snakes are more territorial than boomslangs.

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Both boomslangs and spotted bush snakes are solitary animals but spotted bush snakes are more territorial than the former. Despite belonging to the same family, spotted bush snakes aren’t venomous, while boomslangs are. The former is notably one of the snakes in Sub-Saharan Africa with fatal venom. So, when threatened, boomslangs will attack, but they are smart enough to run from larger predators. Strangely, as venomous as they are, their toxins are not fast-acting, and symptoms may not present themselves until several hours after being bitten. 

Spotted bush snakes are not venomous and are considered harmless. Because of their inability to attack predators, they remain vigilant. Unsurprisingly, If they sense danger, they immediately flee. It’s easy to assume that spotted bush snakes will be cute pets since they are harmless. But that doesn’t make them great pet snakes. Why? These species are cute and harmless but do not eat outside their natural wild habitat. Therefore, they will not survive in captivity.

Boomslang Vs Spotted Bush Snake: Diet

Both boomslangs and spotted bush snakes are carnivores. However, the diet of a spotted bush snake is more restrictive. Typically, a boomslang will feed on various small animals like frogs, lizards, birds, and small mammals. Interestingly, boomslangs are cannibals and feed on their species and other species. In search of food, they prefer to hide among the trees and then sneak up on their prey. 

In contrast, spotted bush snakes are picky with their meals and don’t usually extend their options. They prefer to hunt harmless reptiles and often go after them while asleep. Their primary diet consists of geckos, tree frogs, and chameleons

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Most Venomous Snakes in the World - Boomslang
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