Date of Discovery

The first records of the Grootslang come from a rock painting in a South African province which has yet to be dated correctly. The first sightings started around 1867 and continued to multiple through the last 1890s. In 1963 newspapers began reporting the sightings sending locals into a frenzy.


Grootslang, Grote Slang, “Great Serpent”, Kayman, Ki-man, !Koo-be-eng

Grootslang Painting - Big Snake

Physical Description

This giant snake is described as being 20 – 39 feet in length with a neck 8 – 10 feet long, and its head is 7 – 8 inches wide. It some tales its body is completely snake-like; however, in others, the body takes on a hippo or elephant-like shape with a long snake-like tail. Its skin or scales are pitch black from head to tail.


The origin of this legendary cyrtid snake comes from the African regions, most notoriously a deep cave in Richtersveld, South Africa. This creature has also made its way to treading water in the Orange River of the North Eastern Cape Province, as well as the Vaal Dam of Free State Province. It has even been said they dwell in the deep pits of the Congo.

Mythology & Lore

According to legend, the Grootslang is as old as the world itself crafted by the gods themselves in the early time’s creation. This giant primordial creature would prove to be a terrible mistake, as they filled it with tremendous strength, cunning, and intellect. The gods tried to split their creature into two smaller animals, elephants and the first snakes, but one of the original Grootslang escaped the gods. Hiding in the cave known as the “Water Hole” or “Bottomless Pit” it continued to live and breed creating more of its kind. It would lure elephants into the cave to feed itself and little ones.

According to the local legends living in the deep caves of Africa is what drives this great serpent to covet gems and diamonds. This lust of the gems curves the creature’s cruelty and dark nature leaving a bargaining room for its victims to gain freedom from certain death. In 1917 while searching for treasure in the Richtersveld, South Africa English businessman Peter Grayson and his party were attacked and disappeared. Locals blamed the Grootslang for claim yet again another victim from the lions and coveting the riches the party was rumored to have found.

Most of the other significant sightings report the creature attacking from the deep waters of rivers with few people surviving the encounters. Some gave details of a large wave rushing toward them or their boats before swallowing them down into the water. Other reports like Frederick Cornell’s in 1910 say the creature emerged from the wave raising its massive head 12 feet into the air before attacking them.

Many people have tried to rationalize possible explanations for the numerous reports of slightly different creatures. One being a large rock python, another water monitor lizard, or even an unknown species of monitor. Some have even claimed this is could be the same longneck seal that people mistake Nessie and other lake monsters for. Though some of these are good theories none have been proven leaving locals to go on fearing the dreaded Grootslang and its greedy need for the beautiful gem’s African lands hold.


Modern Pop-Culture References
Books & Literature

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