I can pretty much guarantee that every time I've encountered a snake in my garden or while on a hike out in the veld, I haven't had a chance to quickly run into the house to grab a field guide. So to have an app handy on my phone is absolutely brilliant. eSnakes of Southern Africa is based on A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa by Johan Marais, and is an absolute must for anyone who's passionate about identifying the scaly critters. And who knows, perhaps recognising a snake might even be a life-or-death situation.
The app is easy to use, its primary drop-down menu giving your a list option with all species, adders or vipers, back-fanged and so on, as well as a useful smart search function where you can fill in fields to identify a snake you're not sure of. There's also a handy spot where you can list which snakes you've seen according to species, location and date, and then also handy extras that give you basics about snake biology, behaviour and more. Each section also has ample photos and illustrations. You have a choice between English and Afrikaans as well.
Now on to the individual species. What makes this app far more useful in practice than a book, is that you're not going to waste time paging. If like me, you already have a basic understanding of the different snakes and species of the region, you'll already know the difference, at a glance, between an adder and a house snake – you'll be able to fine tune your search quite quickly.
Each species profile gives you a good selection of photos to aid identification, diagrams illustrating length, head shape, as well as basic information about length, scale count, colour, preferred habitat, habits, distribution maps and more. Even better, there is a tab for emergency contacts – dog forbid you'll ever need that.
If you're often out and about in the region, this app is invaluable, especially for natural lovers, and is well worth the investment, especially if you don't want to lug books around with you when you're travelling.