Colloquial/Common Names: Oos-Akrika Eiervreter (Afrikaans).
Taxonomy: Class: Reptilia; Order: Squamata; Suborder: Serpentes (Ophidia); Infraorder: Caenophidia; Family: Colubridae. The subspecies found in South Africa is Dasypeltis medici medici. Dasypeltis medici lamuensis occurs mainly in Kenya and northern Tanzania around Mount Kilimanjaro.
Identification: A sandy-brown to pinkish-brown snake with darker rectangular saddles along its back interspersed with white markings and thin, dark angular markings along its flanks. The belly is pale pink with thin stippling.
Size: Adults average 600-900mm total length.
Distribution: In South Africa, this snake is restricted to north-eastern KwaZulu-Natal extending northwards into Mozambique.
Habitat: Indian Ocean Coastal Belt where it frequents lowland evergreen forests.
Activity & Behaviour: Nocturnal, terrestrial and arboreal, these snakes emerge at night to hunt for eggs. Completely harmless with tiny teeth embedded in the gums, they put on quite a show by sinuously rubbing their body scales together making a rasping sound and lunging out at the aggressor.
Diet & Feeding: Bird eggs, usually freshly laid and undeveloped.
Reproduction: Oviparous, females lay 6-28 eggs which hatch after 60-90 days.
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.