Colloquial/Common Names: Bruinhuislang (Afrikaans); Inkwakhwa (isiXhosa); Umzingandlu (isiZulu).

Taxonomy: Class: Reptilia; Order: Squamata; Suborder: Serpentes (Ophidia); Infraorder: Caenophidia; Superfamily: Elapoidea; Family: Lamprophiidae (Note: Some authorities further place this snake in the subfamily: Lamprophiinae). In earlier literature, this snake is referred to as Lamprophis fuliginosus.

Identification: A uniform brown snake with a pale cream belly and smooth, shiny scales. A distinct pair of white stripes run alongside the head across the eyes creative a ‘V’ mark when viewed from the front.

Size: Adults average 600-800mm, but occasionally may exceed a metre in length.

Distribution: Found throughout South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland.

Habitat: Found across all the Biomes where it shelters under fallen logs, rock piles, deserted termite mounds, compost heaps and building rubble.

Activity & Behaviour: Largely nocturnal, these snakes are common in suitable habitat and adapt well to semi-urban environments where they shelter under planks, corrugated iron, between brick piles, in building rubble or inside compost heaps. They are non-venomous and harmless to man, although will bite and have tiny, sharp, recurved teeth.

Diet & Feeding: Lizards, mice and other small rodents.

Reproduction: Oviparous, females lay up to 16 eggs which take around three months to hatch.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

References and Recommended Further Reading:

  • Alexander, G. & Marais, J. 2007. A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Bates, M. F., Branch, W. R., Bauer, A. M., Burger, M., Marais, J., Alexander, G. J., & de Villiers, M. S. (eds). 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Branch, W. R. 1998. Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Broadley, D. G. 1990. FitzSimons’ Snakes of Southern Africa. Jonathan Ball and Ad. Donker Publishers.

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