Re: AW Reptile Book: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Wed Feb 27, 2013 12:55 am

Fork-marked Sand Snake, Kalahari Sand Snake Psammophis trinasalis (Kalaharisandslang, Vurkmerksandslang)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Psammophinae

Image © ExFmem

Image Image
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Size
It grows to an average length of 75 cm and a maximum length of 1.1 m.

Description
A striped sand snake with slender body, moderate to large eyes and round pupils.
Brown above, a fine yellow vertebral line bifurcates just behind the parietal scales on the head of the snake.
A yellow dorsolateral stripe covers scale row 4 and lower half of scale row 5, the upper half being black, this stripe extends forward across the temporal region to the postoculars. The flanks are paler than the back. The labials, lower half of outer dorsal scale row and ends of ventrals are white; there is a yellow median ventral band. Eastern specimens have a dark brown dorsum, whereas those from the arid western regions are light grey-brown above and many specimens from the Etosha National Park lack dorsal markings.

Scalation
17 midbody scale rows; 150-175 ventrals; 84-120 subcaudals (paired), divided anal shield.

Taxonomy
Historically there were 3 races of P. leightoni recognized - leightoni, namibensis, and trinasalis. Broadley (2002) revised the systematics of the genus Psammophis in southern Africa (south of Latitude 12° S). The main changes brought about by this revision were: (i) recognition of Psammophis trinasalis and P. namibensis as separate species from P. leightoni, with which they were formerly regarded as conspecific. But a paper published in 2008 (Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution) suggested further work on this complex is necessary to investigate the limits of species boundaries. (Addendum: John Marais has confirmed the ID as P. trinasalis.)

Distribution
This snake has a wide distribution and occurs in the following areas; the Free State, the Northern Cape, the North West, Limpopo, Botswana and Namibia.

Habitat
Its favoured habitat is Kalahari thornveld.

Behaviour
It has a strictly diurnal lifestyle.

Diet
They eat lizards (particularly skinks and lacertids) and rodents and other snakes. They chew their prey until it succumbs to the venom, then swallow it head first.

Predators
Eaten by birds of prey (particularly Secretarybirds and Snake eagles) and other snakes.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg-laying).

Venom
Although venomous is not dangerous to man.

Image © Michele Nel
Erindi, Namibia

Image © nan

Image © nan
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image © nan
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Image © General Gump

Image © General Gump

Image © General Gump
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Fri Mar 15, 2013 12:28 pm

Puff Adder Bitis arietans (Poffadder)
Family: Viperidae. Subfamily: Viperinae

Image
Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park

Characteristics
• Sluggish with a very fast strike with distinct hissing noise
• Vivid black chevron markings on yellow “keeled scales”
• Broad shovel-shaped head
• Very big nostrils
• Telltale line between its eyes
• Average size 80-100 cm

Size
The average length for these snakes is 90cm-1.1m. There are however records of specimens exceeding 1.9m although this is rare. What these snakes lack in length, they make up in bulk. Specimens exceeding 4kg are not uncommon.

Description
This is a thick robust heavily built snake. It has the distinctive triangular head normally associated with the genus. It has 'front-hinged' fangs situated at the front of the mouth which fold back into the roof of the mouth within a protective sheath when the mouth is closed. When the mouth opens the fangs unfold outwards, similar to the action of a 'switch-blade'. These fangs may be very long and penetrate deeply into the tissues during a bite.

The anatomy of Puff adder fangs Image

The Puff adder (like most members of the Viperidae family), is an ambush predator and thus colours vary greatly depending on the geographic location. It is also not uncommon to find a variation in colour within a relatively small area.
The head has two well-marked dark bands: one on the crown and the other between the eyes. On the sides of the head, there are two oblique dark bands or bars that run from the eye to the supralabials. Below, the head is yellowish white with scattered dark blotches. Iris color ranges from gold to silver-gray.
Dorsally, colours range from yellow, light brown, dark brown, orange, ochre, tan, beige. This is overlaid with a pattern of 18–22 backwardly-directed, dark brown to black bands that extend down the back and tail. Usually these bands are roughly chevron-shaped, but may be more U-shaped in some areas. They also form 2–6 light and dark cross-bands on the tail. Some populations are heavily flecked with brown and black, often obscuring other coloration, giving the animal a dusty-brown or blackish appearance. The belly is white or yellow with several dark blotches randomly scattered along the length of the body.
Newborn young have golden head markings with pinkish to reddish ventral plates toward the lateral edges.
Generally, though, these are relatively dull-looking snakes, except for male specimens from the Cape Province, South Africa, that usually have a striking yellow and black color pattern.

Scalation
The rostral scale is small. The circumorbital ring consists of 10–16 scales. Across the top of the head, there are 7–11 interocular scales. 3–4 scales separate the suboculars and the supralabials. There are 12–17 supralabials and 13–17 sublabials. The first 3–4 sublabials contact the chin shields. Often, there are two fangs on each maxilla and both can be functional. Midbody there are 29–41 rows of dorsal scales. These are strongly keeled except for the outermost rows. The ventral scale count is 123–147, the subcaudals 14–38. Females have no more than 24 subcaudals. The anal scale is single.

Geographical distribution
This species is the most common and widespread venomous snake in Africa. It's geographic range includes: South Africa, Namibia, Swaziland, Lesotho, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Malawi, Angola, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda, Congo, Democratic republic of Congo (Zaire), Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Nigeria, Niger, Central African Republic, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Senegal, Mauritania, Mali, Chad, Algeria, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Yemen.
Two races are recognised:
Bitis arietans arietans, the common widespread puff adder.
Bitis arietans somalica found in Somalia and northern Kenya.

Image

Habitat
The Puff adder is found in all habitats except for true deserts and rain forests and mountain tops. The preferred habitat for the species includes open grassland, savanna, open woodlands and rocky outcrops.

Behaviour
Puff adders are described as being both diurnal and nocturnal although they are mostly active at night.
This species willingness to bite is greatly exaggerated. As with all snakes, it is reluctant to bite unless provoked. The species is quite sluggish preferring to rely on its cryptic colouration and patterns for camouflage, and will only bite if trodden on, or surprised.
If disturbed, they will hiss loudly and continuously, adopting a tightly coiled defensive posture with the fore part of their body held in a taut 'S' shape. At the same time, they may attempt to back away from the threat towards cover. They may strike suddenly and at a high speed, to the side as easily as forwards, before returning quickly to the defensive position, ready to strike again. During a strike, the force of the impact is so strong, and the long fangs penetrate so deeply, that prey items are often killed by the physical trauma alone. The fangs are apparently able to penetrate soft leather. They can strike to a distance of about one third of their body length, but juveniles will launch their entire bodies forwards in the process. These snakes rarely grip their victims, instead releasing quickly to return to the striking position.
Locomotion is primarily rectilinear, using the broad ventral scales in a caterpillar fashion and aided by its own weight for traction. When agitated, it can resort to a typical serpentine movement and move with surprising speed. Although mainly terrestrial, these snakes are good swimmers and can also climb with ease; often they are found basking in low bushes. One specimen was found 4.6 m above the ground in a densely branched tree.

Diet
Mostly nocturnal, they rarely forage actively. Their prey includes mammals, birds, amphibians, and lizards. This species does not actively hunt, but rather lies in ambush and waits for prey to come within striking distance. Prey items are seldom gripped, instead, the Puff Adder will strike out quickly, inject their venom in a fraction of a second, and then follow the prey's scent using their forked tongue.

Predators
The Puff adder is primarily preyed on by Herpistidae (particularly mongooses and honey badgers), birds of prey (e.g. Secretarybirds and Snake eagles ), Ground Hornbills, warthogs, and other snakes.

Image © Dewi

Reproduction
Females produce a pheromone to attract males, which engage in neck-wrestling combat dances. Mating usually occurs in spring.
Puff adders are ovoviviparous. Ovoviviparity means that the young develop within an egg, and are nourished by the egg yolk, but instead of being incubated externally, the eggs are retained within the organisms body until they are ready to hatch. The average litter size is between 20-50 young. Litters of 80 young have been recorded on several occasions. Very large specimens, particularly those from East Africa, give birth to the highest numbers of offspring. The record size of a litter was recorded by a large female which had a litter of 156 young. The gestation period in this species is between 7-9 months although some records show a gestation period over 12 months. The young measure between 13-20 cm.

Venom
The venom is cytotoxic (tissue destroying). This species is responsible for more fatalaties than any other African snake. Although the puff adder is classified as the most dangerous snake in Africa, it is neither the deadliest, nor the most venomous snake in Africa. Although bites are common, only a small proportion results in human fatality. In South Africa alone the Puff adder is responsible for 60% of all recorded snakebites.
The average venom yield per bite is between 100-300 mg with the maximum yield of around 700 mg. 100 mg is fatal in humans. A bite from this snake may result in death after 26 hours if treatment is not received. Deep necrosis may result in severe cases which may lead to the amputation of the affected limb, and extensive reconstructive surgery is often needed. Death usually results from kidney failure and other complications as a result of extensive swelling.

Links: Bill Branch,William R. Branch: A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa

Image © Bushcraft
Lake Eland

Image © aat
Kruger National Park, S36

Image © Dewi
Kruger National Park

Image © Dewi

Image © leachy

Image © Bushcraft
Kruger National Park S139

Image © Heksie
Kruger National Park

Puff Adder Ingests Whistling Rat - Kgalagadi Jan 2016 by Michele Nel

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Video of Puff Adder swallowing a Whistling Rat

View My Video

Re: AW Reptile Book: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Tue Jul 16, 2013 5:02 pm

Western Stripe-bellied Sand Snake, Western Yellow-bellied Sand Snake Psammophis subtaeniatus (Westelike gestreepte sandslang)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Psammophinae

Image
Kruger National Park

Image © Super Nova
Kruger National Park, Nkulhu picnic spot

Characteristics
• Long slender snake
• Pointed head with large eyes and round pupils
• Striped from head to tail
• Diurnal
• Lemon yellow belly

Size
It grows to an average length of 1 meter and a maximum length of 1.4 meters.

Description
A striped sand snake with slender body, large eyes and round pupils. It has slender pointed head with blotches and distinct dorsal stripes down the body, with a lemon-yellow belly, bordered by a black hairline in either side. The outer portions of the belly are pure white. It has a grey-olive back with a broad black-edged stripe down the back, bordered by a narrow cream to yellow stripe on either side; then there is a dark lateral stripe with a black line on the lower edge. The head has pale edged markings that form transverse bars.

Scalation
Scale count at midbody would be in 17 rows with 155 to 181 ventral scales and 106 to 132 paired subcaudals. The anal shield is devided. There are 9 (sometimes 8 or 10) upper labials, the fourth, fifth & sixth entering the eye, rarely 8 (4 & 5), 8 (3,4,5), 9 (5 & 6), 10 (5,6,7) or 10 (4,5,6,7). There are 10 (sometimes 9 or 11) lower labials (the first 4 (rarely 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals). Nostril pierced between 2 nasals; preocular 1 (very rarely 2), in short contact with or separated from frontal; postoculars 2; temporals are basically 2+2+3, but with frequent fusions.
Head brown above, uniform, or more often with largely transverse grey markings which may be present only posteriorly, continuing onto the neck as a series of faint crossbars; supralabials, chin and throat white, yellow or vermillion, usually heavily speckled with black; 7 mid-dorsal scale rows brown, sometimes each scale bordered with black; a yellow or white dorsolateral stripe on scale rows 4 and 5 is black-edged above and below and followed by a chestnut to brown lateral band, the lower half of outer scale row (scale row 1) and ends of ventrals white, separated by a pair of black ventral hair lines from a yellow mid-ventral band.

Similar species
It can be confused with other sand snakes, whip snakes and grass snakes (Psammophis spp,) or with the Striped Skaapsteker (Psammophylax tritaeniatus).

Geographical distribution
It occurs in southern Angola and northern Namibia, and ranges east through Botswana to southern Zambia, Zimbabwe, western Mozambique, the northeastern provinces of South Africa and eastern Swaziland. It is very common in the Limpopo valley as well as the Zambezi valley.

Habitat
This species inhabits open dry savanna with mopane veld, thornveld and bushveld, venturing into shrubs and low bushes in search of prey or a basking spot. It is frequently found near water and is common on rock outcrops.

Behaviour
It has a strictly diurnal lifestyle like most sand/whip snakes. It is often active during the hottest hours of the day. If stumbled upon, this snake will slither off quickly and then freeze within the nearest bush or shrub and further rely on camouflage. This snake is largely terrestrial, but may bask in shrubs or low bushes. It is probably the fastest snake in Africa.

Diet
They eat mostly lizards, but also rodents, frogs and small birds, taken on excursions into low bush.

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft
Kruger National Park, Mlondlozi picnic spot.

Image © Sprocky
Kruger National Park, Letaba

Predators
Eaten by birds of prey (particularly Secretary birds and Snake Eagles) and other snakes.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg-laying), it lays between 4 and 10 eggs (32 x 12 mm) in summer. The hatchlings are about 20 cm long.

Venom
Although venomous is not dangerous to man.

Links: William R. Branch: Field Guide to the Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa, Johan Marais: What's That Snake?, Johan Marais: Snakes and Snake Bite in Southern Africa

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park, Mopane camp

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Wed Jul 17, 2013 12:02 pm

(Southern) Vine Snake, Twig Snake, Bird Snake Thelotornis capensis (Savannevoelslang)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Colubrinae

Image © leachy
Thelotornis capensis capensis , Kruger National Park

Characteristics
• Lance-shaped head with keyhole-shaped pupil
• Top of the head is green or blue-green
• Camouflaged as a twig or branch, spends most time in shrubs and trees
• Red and black tongue, held out when threatened
• When confronted, inflates the throat showing the skin colours

Description
Vine snakes are highly specialised arboreal snakes that have very elongated thin bodies, long pointed lance-shaped heads, large eyes with distinctive keyhole shaped pupil, which give vine snakes binocular vision. The iris is yellow. The tail is very long. Thelotornis capensis is a master of disguise. When lying still in trees, this snake is almost invisible to passers-by. The cryptic body colour blends in perfectly, resembling that of a twig or vine. Above ash grey or grey-brown with darker and lighter blotches and flecks of black, orange and pink. There are usually one or two dark blotches on the side of the neck. The head is pale blue-green above, speckled with brown, black and sometimes pink. A wide pinkish white black speckled band runs along the upper lip from the snout across the eye to the back of the head. A dark line radiates from each eye to the upper lip. Chin and throat are white, speckled with black. The underside is pinkish white to light grey, streaked and speckled with black.The tonge is is bright orange to red tipped black.
This snake reaches an average length of 1.2 meters but may grow up to 1.5 m. These snakes are sexually dimorphic: the males have much longer tales and the females are more heavy-bodied.
It can also be recognized by the way its neck when threatened.

Taxonomy
This species has four subspecies:
T. capensis capensis Southern Vine Snake. Distinguished by speckling on the head.
T. capensis oatesi Oates's Vine or Twig Snake
T. capensis mossambicanus Eastern Twig Snake is larger (up to 1.7 m) and usually has more than 160 ventrals. The top of the head is unspeckled blue-green with a dark Y-shaped marking. It is found in northern Namibia, northern Botswana, Zimbabwe, western Mozambique. The subspecies T. c. mossambicanus is sometimes considered a distinct species.
T. capensis schilsi

Scalation
The body scales are feebly keeled, in 19 oblique rows at midbody.
T. capensis capensis: Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0 or 3); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 1 or 1 + 3); upper labials 8 (very rarely 7 or 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth or third, fourth and fifth) entering the eye; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (very rarely 3 or 6) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19- 13 rows, rarely in 17 rows at midbody (15 rows only in TMP 45554); ventrals 144-160 in males, 148-162 in females; anal shield divided; paired subcaudals 133- 155 in males, 127-147 in females.
T. capensis oatesii: Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2, very rarely 1 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 3 or 1 + 1); upper labials 8 (rarely 7, very rarely 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth, third, fourth and fifth, or third, or fourth only) entering the eye; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (rarely 3) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19-11 or 19-19-13 rows, very rarely 17 rows at midbody; ventrals 150-177 in males, 153-177 in females; anal divided; subcaudals 132-173 in males, 126-168 in females.

Similar species
Some of the whip, grass and sand snakes (Psammophis sp.). But Vine snakes are usually found in shrubs or trees and have the unique cryptic coloration.

Geographical distribution
This species occurs from southern Somalia through East Africa and south to northern South Africa and northern Namibia. Native to Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Kenya; Malawi; Mozambique; Namibia; Somalia; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Zambia; Zimbabwe.
The Southern Vine snake T. capensis capensis is found in the following areas of southern Africa: Mpumalanga, Limpopo, North West province, Swaziland, KwaZulu-Natal, southern Zimbabwe and eastern Botswana.

Image

Habitat
This species inhabits savanna, coastal thicket and forest fringe. It prefers low shrubs, bushes and dead trees upon which to rest. The common name 'bird snake' is probably an inaccurate description of its feeding habits, as it appears to hunt both at ground level and in trees, and is therefore not restricted to only aboreal foraging.

Behaviour
This species is diurnal. If vine snakes are threatened and cannot escape, they will inflate their neck like the Boomslang, exposing the light skin between the scales. They will then draw their head backwards and will strike out.
Males engage in combat, intertwining the bodies while attempting to push on another’s head down.

Diet
Vine Snakes spend most of their time lying in wait for prey to come to them. It also hunts active for food during the day and approaches the prey in short spurts, then darting forward to seize it. Prey is killed by envenomation, held firmly in the jaws while the venom takes effect. The prey is swallowed while the snake hangs downwards.Terrestrial prey is hunted from low shrubs.
They feed on lizards (including chameleons: Chamaeleo and Bradypodion spp.) and frogs as well as the occasional snake, mouse or bird.

Predators
Fed on by birds of prey (particularly Secretarybirds and Snake-Eagles) and other snakes.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg laying). The female lays 4 - 18 small, elongate eggs (25-41 x 12-17 mm) in summer; these hatch in March, after 60 - 90 days. The young measure 22 - 37 cm TL and weigh 3 - 4 g. The banded markings on the hatchlings are the same as those of their parents. A female is known to produce more than one clutch per season.

Venom
The Vine Snake is one of the several back-fanged colubrids whose bite is highly venomous and potentially lethal to man. The venom is hemotoxic, and although its effects are very slow, and bites are rare, no antivenom has been developed and several fatalities have occurred. The venom (haemotoxin, coagulant and haemorrhagin) causes bleeding and renal failure.
The snake may follow up on an unsuccessful strike, and it may also inflate the throat area or the whole front of its body when threatened. Luckily it is seldom encountered and deaths are exceptionally rare.

Links: Johan Marais: A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa, Johan Marais: Volledige Gids Tot Die Slange Van Suider-afrika

Re: AW Reptile Book: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Wed Jul 17, 2013 2:30 pm

Spotted Bush Snake, Variegated Bush Snake Philothamnus semivariegatus (Gespikkelde Bosslang)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Colubrinae

Image

Image
iMfolozi GR, KZN

Image © Bushcraft
iMfolozi GR, KZN

Image © leachy
Kruger National Park, Mlondlozi Picnic spot

Characteristics
• Usually has black speckles on the front half of the body.
• An expert climber
• Often inhabits space between walls and corrugated roofing, especially in KwaZulu-Natal
• Active during the day
• The tongue is bright blue with a black tip
• Eye has a round pupil with a golden or orange iris.

Description
The Spotted Bush Snake can be identified by its black speckling, its gold or orange irises and round black pupils, a blue tongue with a black tip, an expert climbing ability and a diurnal lifestyle. It is a highly alert snake and has a very good eyesight. It grows to an average length of 90 cm and a maximum length of 1.3 m.
Colour is variable, but usually bright green to olive green above with black spots or crossbars on the anterior half or two-thirds of the body. The last half or third of the snake is plain green. The head is usually green or blue-green in colour. The underside is greenish white to yellowish, with distinctly keeled ventral scales, which helps this snake to climb. The dorsal coloration of specimens from Zimbabwe is usually blue-green on the anterior parts, passing to bronze towards the tip, and lemon yellow below, also turning to bronze on the posterior parts.

Scalation
The scales at midbody are in 15 rows with 175 to 204 ventral scales and 122 to 166 paired subcaudals. The anal shield is devided. There are 8-12 upper labials, the 4th, 5th and 6th (but this varies) entering the eye, and 9-12 lower labials, as well as 1 preocular and 2 postoculars. Temporals are 2 + 2, but this is also variable.

Similar species
Because of its colour it is often mistaken for the Green Mamba or the Boomslang.

Geographical distribution
Widespread, this species occurs from South Africa to Sudan and Guinea. In southern Africa found from eastern Namibia, the Caprivi strip, a large portion of Botswana, all of Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique, Swaziland and north east South Africa and KwaZulu-Natal.

Habitat
They prefer river banks, shrubs and bushes or rocky regions in karoo scrub, moist savanna, lowland forest and even residential gardens (in KwaZulu-Natal particularly). The Spotted Bush Snake is rarely seen on the ground as it prefers to hunt in trees and bushes. It is mostly found in trees in bush and forest areas, where it hunts lizards and treefrogs. They are excellent climbers and swimmers. They are excellent climbers and, with the ventral scales, can easily climb up the rough bark of a tree or even up brick walls. They often enter houses and outbuildings, especially those that have shrubs planted next to windows.

Behaviour
This is a diurnal species. They are well camouflaged, naturally very nervous, and quick to escape from any potential threat. As such, suburban sightings are rare. When this snake is disturbed, it will move away fast and in short bursts to the nearest cover. If it is cornered or when it turns defensive, it will inflate its neck like some other snakes and the vivid blue skin in between the scales will be visible. This makes it look more dangerous, almost like a Boomslang. It bites readily if disturbed.
They are not territorial, and will roam great distances in search for food. Like the Boomslang, they will raise their head off the ground and undulate the neck.

Diet
Eats lizards (particularly geckos and chameleons) and frogs (mainly tree frogs).

Predators
Eaten by other snakes (particularly Vine Snakes), birds of prey (particularly Secretarybirds and Snake-Eagles). Cats often get hold of these snakes around the home and will frequently bring them into to play with.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg-laying), females can lay between 3 and 12 eggs (28-41 x 8-15 mm) in midsummer, and hatchlings measure 20-30 cm.

Venom
The Spotted Bush Snake is non-venomous and not dangerous to man.

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna

Image © BluTuna
Kruger National Park

Links: Johan Marais: Snakes and Snake bite in Southern Africa

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Thu Oct 03, 2013 10:47 am

Rhombic Skaapsteker, Spotted Skaapsteker, Spotted Grass Snake Psammophylax rhombeatus (Gevlekte Skaapsteker)
Family: Colubridae

Image

Image

Image
Rietvlei Nature Reserve, Gauteng

Characteristics
• Fairly large eyes with round pupils
• Boldly marked
• Dashes for cover; well camouflaged
• Nervous and fast moving
• Diurnal

Description
The Spotted skaapsteker is identified by its large eyes (with round pupils), its nervous movements and its strictly diurnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 85 cm but may reach up to 1.4 meters in length.
This is a medium-sized snake with a head that is not very distinct from the body. Above yellowish brown or pale olive. The anterior part of the body has a row of dark brown, round spots down each side. There is a similar row of spots on the back. These spots often coalesce further down the body to form bands of dark brown down the back and sides. Specimens in the Western Cape are very attractively marked as the spots do not coalesce as much and are often contrasted brightly against a pale background colour. The belly has bluish-grey to grey mottles. Some specimens have a few orange to red spots scattered around the sides of the belly and neck.

Scalation
Midbody scales are in 17 rows, with 143-177 ventrals, and 60-84 paired subcaudals. The anal shield is divided. There are 8 (sometimes 7,9,or 10) upper labials, the 4th and 5th entering the eye; 10-11 (sometimes 9 or 12) lower labials; 1 preocular (sometimes 2) and 2 (sometimes 3) postoculars

Geographical distribution
Found in the following areas; the Western Cape, the Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Mpumalanga and Limpopo (there is also a small Northern Cape population as well 3 populations in Namibia).

Habitat
Its favoured habitats are fynbos, grassland and moist savanna.

Behaviour
A fast-moving diurnal snake and an active predator.

Diet
Feeds on rodents (e.g. rats and mice), lizards, birds, frogs and other snakes.

Predators
Fed on by birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles) and other snakes.

Reproduction
Lays eggs in summer. The species falls between viviparous and ovoviviparous as it lays its eggs partly incubated. It lays up to 30 eggs of 20-35mm x 12-18mm, taking up to 6 weeks to hatch. Females are occasionally found coiled around their eggs in a protective attitude.

Venom
Rear fanged and mildly venomous. The venom of this snake poses no threat to man.

Links:
Warren Schmidt: Reptiles & Amphibians of Southern Africa: http://books.google.de/books?id=D-T7qkR ... us&f=false
Johan Marais: A complete guide to the snakes of southern Africa
Johan Marais: What's that Snake?: A Starter's Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Sun Oct 13, 2013 7:35 pm

Striped Skaapsteker, Striped or Three-lined Grass Snake, White-bellied Grass-snake Psammophylax tritaeniatus (Gestreepte Skaapsteker)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Psammophinae

Image © Sprocky
Kruger National Park

Characteristics
• Large eyes with round pupils
• Very well camouflaged among shrubs and grass
• Diurnal
• Nervous and fast-moving, dashing for cover when disturbed.

Description
The Striped Skaapsteker has a small head with a pointed snout, small eyes (with round pupils), stripes running lengthwise down its body and it is strictly diurnal. Above, grey to pale olive grey or brown with three well-defined black-edged dark brown stripes that extend along the entire body.
The narrowest of the three stripes forms a vertebral stripe that may be divided down the middle by a fine yellowish line. The two lateral stripes extend onto the head, passing through the eyes. Upper lip is white to cream. Underside pale white/cream/yellow.
It grows to an average length of 65 cm but can reach up to 93 cm in length. Size: Max SVL male 734 mm, female 680 mm.

Scalation
Dorsal scales are smooth and imbricate with apical pits. Dorsal scale count usually 19 - 17 - 13.

Geographical distribution
It has a very wide distribution and is found in the following areas; Free State, Gauteng, North West province, Limpopo, Zimbabwe, most of Botswana and North Eastern Namibia.

Habitat
Its favoured habitats are grasslands, karoo scrub, arid savanna and moist savanna (it is often found in vlei areas in these habitats).

Behaviour
Survival behaviour includes dashing for cover and then freezing, action that complements their ability to become well-camouflaged and bypassed by potential predators.

Diet
Rodents (e.g. rats and mice) and occasionally nestling birds. Young specimens feed on frogs and lizards (particularly skinks).

Predators
Fed on by birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles) and other snakes.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg laying), lays between 5 and 18 eggs in summer. The young measure 13-22 cm.

Venom
Seldom attempts to bite if captured and its mild venom has virtually no effect on man.

Links: Johan Marais: What's that Snake?: A Starter's Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa

Image © Bushcraft
Kruger National Park

Image © Heksie

Image © Heksie
Kruger National Park, S112

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Mon Oct 14, 2013 5:40 pm

Cape House Snake, Brown House Snake Boaedon capensis, formerly Lamprophis capensis
Family: Lamprophiidae.

Image © Sprocky

Image © Sprocky

Image © Sprocky

Image © Twigga
Kruger National Park

Image © leachy
Kruger National Park

Image © Heksie
Kruger National Park

Characteristics
• Slow moving
• Reluctant to bite
• Often found in residential gardens
• Ground-living
• Nocturnal
• Feed mainly on rodents and lizards

Description
A slender brown snake with two distinctive pale stripes above the eyes. It is usually dark brown on top but the colour varies greatly, from almost black through brown to olive green. The stripes that stretch from the rostral scale through the eye to the back of the head are very strong, thick and bold. Often this species may have a lateral stripe running down the flanks, this often resembles the links of a chain, they sometimes too have lateral stripes running along either side of the spine, linking lines between the lateral striping is not uncommon. These body markings tend to be a paler brown/cream in colour on top of the often dark, chocolate-brown base tones, these markings normally fade after 2/3's of the body until only the base colour remains but there are exceptions to the rule. Individuals without pattern are often found in the wild, these individuals have the head markings but no markings on top of an often pale-brown body colour. Like all House Snakes, Boaedon capensis is very irrdescent, their scales often shining with an oily sheen in certain lights. This is a sexually dimorphic species, females growing substantially larger than males, sometimes reaching up to 120 cm, males smaller often only reaching 61–76 cm.

Scalation
Subcaudal scale count is typically between 64-68.

Geographical distribution
The Brown House Snake is very widely distributed throughout Sub-Saharan Africa. Its range in SA stretches from KwaZulu-Natal all the way through to the Western Cape.

Image

Habitat
This species is known to frequent human habitations, feeding on the rodents that gather there. It is found in all habitats.

Diet
It feeds mostly on rodents (e.g. rats and mice), birds, bats, lizards (particularly skinks) and frogs (very rarely).

Predators
Eaten by other snakes (File snakes and cobras in particular), monitor lizards, spiders (particularly button spiders), birds of prey (particularly owls and snake-eagles) and carnivorous mammals (particularly mongooses).

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg-laying). It lays six to 18 eggs in summer which hatch after two and a half to three months. The youg measure 190 to 260 mm. It has been known to lay more than one batch per season.

Venom
Non-venomous and not dangerous to man but will bite if threatened.

Links: Johan Marais: What's that Snake?: A Starter's Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa

Image © 100ponder
Swallowing a Weaver chick, it had caught, Amanzimtoti, KwaZulu-Natal

Re: Africa Wild Reptile Book: Snakes - Photos & Descriptions

Tue Oct 15, 2013 7:56 pm

Green Water Snake, South Eastern Green Snake Philothamnus hoplogaster (Groenwaterslang, Suidoostelike Groenslang)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Colubrinae

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft

Image © Bushcraft
Tshokwane, Kruger National Park


Characteristics
• Usually bright emerald green above with a white or yellow belly
• Very good swimmer
• Diurnal

Description
The Green water snake can be identified by its round pupils. It grows to an average length of 60 cm and a maximum length of 100 cm.
A dull or olive-green colour with black spots over the front half of the back. Bright grass-green after sloughing (shedding its skin). The underside is lighter and tinged with white or yellow.

Scalation
It has two temporals on each side of the head and two labials entering each eye. There are 73-106 smooth subcaudals.

Geographical distribution
Found throughout Zimbabwe, central and southern Mozambique, eastern South Africa and the Eastern Cape coast.

Habitat
It is found in a variety of habitats but is particularly common in moist savanna.

Behaviour
It is an adept swimmer and diver, but this snake is equally at home on the ground and in trees. It is most active during the day.

Diet
It eats frogs, fish, lizards and also, beetles, grasshoppers or other insects. Apart from fish and lizards, this snakes's favourite food is frogs and it will search for these far from the water's bank. Having caught its prey, it swims back to the shore with the victim in its mouth.

Predators
Predatory birds and other snakes.

Reproduction
Oviparous (egg-laying), lays between 3 and 8 eggs in early summer. The young measure 150 - 200 mm.

Venom
Non-venomous and not dangerous to man.

Links: William R. Branch: Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa; Johan Marais: Snakes and Snake Bite in Southern Africa

Re: Snakes - Pics & Descriptions

Wed Mar 19, 2014 3:27 pm

Common Egg-eater, Rhombic Egg-eater Dasypeltis scabra (Gewone Eiervreter)
Family: Colubridae. Subfamily: Colubrinae

Image © Heksie

Image © Heksie
Kruger National Park

Characteristics
• Rhombic markings.
• One or more dark V-markings on the neck behind the head.
• The inside of the mouth is very dark
• Nocturnal

Description
Can be identified by its rhombic (diamond shaped) markings, V-shaped markings on the neck, a black tongue, a black mouth and its strictly nocturnal lifestyle. This snake has an average length of 0.75 m but may reach just under 1.2 meters in length. Tail relatively short.
Dorsum olive-gray, with a longitudinal mid-dorsal series of rounded dark-brown blotches, flanked by a series of smaller similarly colored spots on each side, and a chevron-shaped mark on the posterior of the head followed by another on the nape. Venter yellowish.

Scalation
Eight supralabials, fourth and fifth enter the eye, 230 ventrals, 49 subcaudals, 21-27 scale rows around mid-body, anal undivided.

Geographical distribution
This Egg-eater species is distributed throughout Southern Africa.

Habitat
It is found in any habitat except desert and forest areas. Most common in grassland and dry thornveld.

Behaviour
Nocturnal, spending most of the day hiding beneath rocks, under loose bark. Largely ground-dwelling, but climbs regularly in search of bird nests.

Diet
It feeds exclusively on birds eggs which are crushed by bony vertebral projections in the neck area.

Predators
This snake species is fed on by other snakes and birds of prey (including secretary birds and snake eagles).

Reproduction
This species is oviparous. It lays between 6 and 25 eggs in summer and has been to produce more than one clutch in captivity.

Venom
Non-venomous and not dangerous to man.

Links: Johan Marais: Snakes and Snake bite in Southern Africa