Colloquial/Common Names: Herald Snake (English); Rooilipslang (Afrikaans).

Taxonomy: Class: Reptilia; Order: Squamata; Suborder: Serpentes (Ophidia); Infraorder: Caenophidia; Family: Colubridae.

Identification: This snake is olive-brown to grey or olive-green in colour, with some individuals very dark grey and often with white flecks across the body. The lips are usually orange, occasionally white or red and the cheeks a shiny black, most noticeable when the snake flares its lips in a defensive posture.

Size: Adults average 600-800mm.

Distribution: Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Free State, Gauteng, North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga Provinces. Just enters the Northern Cape around Kimberley. Also in Lesotho and Swaziland.

Habitat: Fynbos, Grassland, Savanna and Indian Ocean Coastal Belt Biomes where it’s strongly associated with wetland environments.

Activity & Behaviour: Largely nocturnal where they hunt for frogs around wetlands and moist environments.

Diet & Feeding: Almost exclusively frogs, but will sometimes take lizards.

Reproduction: Oviparous, females lay 6-19 eggs which hatch after two months incubation.

Danger to humans: Mildly venomous, rear-fanged snakes, bites may cause some smarting and bleeding, but not considered dangerous.

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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