Typical Snakes Part # 2

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1 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 1 Module # 4 Component # 6 Species Species endemic to the Lowveld included in this Component are: Brown Water Snake Floodplain Water Snake Dusky-Bellied Water Snake Green Water Snake Eastern Green Snake Variegated Wolf Snake Cape Wolf Snake Swazi Rock Snake Marbled Tree Snake Aurora House Snake Brown House Snake Olive House Snake Spotted House Snake Yellow-Bellied House Snake

2 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 2 Brown Water Snake Lycodonomorphus rufulus Characteristics: Plain brown colour Light ventral scales entending to lower dorsal colours which become darker to salon coloured Near water Light coloured plain upper labials Other Names: Bruinwaterslang Habitat: Varied as they will occur in streams, dams and vleis Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 23 eggs Superstition: This species is still held in apprehension amongst rural Zulu communities where the traditional belief has been that the species venomous.

3 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 3 Description: They mainly feed on frogs & fish, while juveniles will take tadpoles or small fish. They eat their prey in the water. It is a calm snake, rarely attempting to bite even when first caught. It is a fairly easy snake to identify, as it is plain brown to black, salmon coloured belly and upper lip. The belly colouration normally extends nominally up the side of the body that is visible when viewed from the side. The tail ventral scales are typically darker. Distribution: Distribution of the Brown Water Snake Note on our Distribution Maps: The general map is of Southern Africa The green shaded area is the Highveld and Lowveld of South Africa The red lined area depicts the distribution of the species

4 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 4 Floodplain Water Snake Lycodonomorphus obscuriventris Characteristics: Dark brown colour Near to water White stripe through upper labials Yellowish ventral scales Other Names: Vloedvlaktewaterslag Habitat: Mainly occur in vleis or floodplains Reproduction: Oviparous

5 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 5 Description: This species is very similar to the Common Brown Water Snake except for the distribution, size and habitat. They have a fairly restricted range in comparison to the Common Brown Water Snake. It is also a smaller species averaging around 450mm. Colouration is slightly different in that the ventral scales are more orange yellow than salmon coloured and it may be spotted. The upper lip has a plain creamish stripe. Distribution: Distribution of the Floodplain Water Snake

6 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 6 Dusky-bellied Water Snake Lycodonomorphus laevissimus Characteristics: Dark brown slender snake Near water White to cream ventral scales with dark band to centre of ventral scales Dark spots to upper labials may be present Other Names: Swartwaterslang Habitat: Prefers slow moving water & ponds, often in treed areas Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 17 eggs in summer

7 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 7 Description: They mainly feed on frogs & fish, while juveniles will take tadpoles or small fish. They eat their prey in the water. When first encountered or captured this species will often bite as well as musk. It is a fairly easy snake to identify, as the eyes are high up on the head. The body is plain brown to black, creamy to yellow belly with a dark central line running perpendicular to the ventral scales. Occasionally the white may extend nominally up the side of the body, and the upper lip is spotted with white. Distribution: Distribution of the Dusky-bellied Water Snake

8 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 8 Green Water Snake Philothamus hoplogaster Characteristics: Usually plain green, rarely has a few black spots to upper third of body Inflates neck when molested Generall seen in trees Head fairly bulbous from rest of body Other Names: South-eastern Green Snake, Groenwaterslang, Suidoostelike groenslang Habitat: Found in damp areas along rivers, vleis, swamps or lakes on the eastern half of Southern Africa within varied habitats. Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 8 eggs in summer

9 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 9 Description: A species that is misidentified with the Green Mamba. Within the course area the Green Mamba does not occur, however the head shape differs from the coffin shape of the Green Mamba. Misidentification does rarely occur with the Spotted Bush Snake. This snake is emerald green in colour and may rarely have some black spots along the back. They do not inflate their necks when hassled and will rarely bite when initially caught. The ventral scales are usually pale green or yellowish green. The skin on the body between scales is black. The head is also more slender than that of the Spotted Bush Snake. Distribution: Distribution of the Green Water Snake

10 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 10 Eastern Natal Green Snake Philothamus natalensis natalensis Characteristics: Green with white ventral scales Occasionally white flecks present on body Other Names: Natal Green Snake, Natalse groenslang Habitat: Commonly found in areas along rivers, vleis or dams where there is dense vegetation. They occur from forested regions to coastal plains. Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 6 eggs in summer

11 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 11 Description: They are a predominantly arboreal species that will ascend into the trees or bush when disturbed. It inflates the neck region when hassled and will often strike out when captured. It too, is also confused with the Green Mamba but it does not have the distinctive coffin shaped head. They are green with a pale greenish to yellowish white under body. The ventral scales are keeled to aid in climbing. It is very similar in appearances to the Green Water Snake and only when seen very close could one reliably identify the difference between the two species. This species also has two temporal scales as opposed to the one of the Green Water Snake. Two sub-species exist and differ nominally and only through close observation can the two be told apart. 1. P. n. natalensis Keeled subcaudals nine (9) upper labials 2. P. n. occidentalis Smooth subcaudals eight (8) upper labials Distribution: Distribution of the Eastern and Western Natal Green Snake

12 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 12 Variegated Wolf Snake Lycophidion variegatum Characteristics: Black with far more speckling than Cape Wolf snake, more spotted with white in irregular pattern Small Species with a slender build Other Names: Bont wolfslang Habitat: Varied habitat including bushveld, thornveld, and savanna, but always in rocky regions within their larger habitat zones. Within their range they are often found in damp localities under all sorts of shelter like rocks and logs or under exfoliating rock. Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 3 eggs in summer

13 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 13 Description: This species is slightly easier to identify because of the white marking present on the body. They are black or extremely dark brown on the ventral scales and the body. The body is marked with an irregular white pattern that extends the entire body length and the white spots are often close together or joined, unlike the Cape Wolf Snake. Even when first captured it seldom reacts and very rarely bites. Distribution: Distribution of the Variegated Wolf Snake

14 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 14 Cape Wolf Snake Lycophidion capensis Characteristics: Predomiantly black body White flecks to scales and head 2 supra-ocular scales Other Names: Common Wolf Snake, Gewone wolfslang, Kaapsewolfslang Habitat: Varied habitat from bushveld, thornveld, savanna, Lowveld & Highveld down to coastal plains and in rocky areas. Within their range they are often found in more damp localities under all sorts of shelter like rocks, logs, rubbish, termite mounds and rock crevices or exfoliating rock. Reproduction: Oviparous, having less than 10 eggs in summer

15 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 15 Description: It is a species that could be misidentified as described under the Bibron's Burrowing Asp. The upper scales have white edges giving a white speckled appearance on a black to dark brown upper body. The ventral scales may have some black speckling and very rarely a non-continuous dark band is present to the centre of the ventral scales, but usually they are creamy white. Unlike Bibron's Burrowing Asp which inflicts a very nasty cytotoxic bite, this species is harmless. Even experience snake handlers have misidentified the harmless Wolf Snake with a dark phased Highveld Garter Snake, fortunately both rarely bite. Distribution: Distribution of the Cape Wolf Snake

16 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 16 Swazi Rock Snake Lamprophis swazicus Characteristics: Plain brown slender snake Distinctive head & Eyes Other Names: Swazirotsslang Habitat: They prefer rocky regions where they can hide in crevices and under exfoliating rocks Reproduction: Oviparous, assumed less than 10 eggs

17 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 17 Description: It is a peculiar species to the Genus and it may in the future be described under it s own genus. They have thin bodies with a very distinctive head. The ventral scales are usually cream to white and the upper body is brown, beige or brick red. They have very large eyes that are very easily noticeable. Distribution: Distribution of the Swazi Rock Snake

18 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 18 Marbled Tree Snake Dipsadoboa aulica Characteristics: Typical head Vertical pupil Marbled head colouration White coloured tongue Other Names: Cross-Barred Tree Snake, Gebande slang or Dwarsgestreepte Slang Habitat: Lowveld forest extending down to Coastal Forests Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 8 eggs

19 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 19 Description: It is brown to light brown with a series of thin white criss-cross lines along the body. The head also has white patterning and ventral scales are off-white with the sides speckled in a red brown colour. The tongue is also white. They feed primarily on Geckos and tree frogs but will take other toad and frog species and lizards. When hassled they raise the head well off the ground and strike out ferociously and will often bite when handled. Distribution: Distribution of the Marbled Tree Snake

20 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 20 Aurora House Snake Lamprophis aurora Characteristics: Green with white ventral scales Orange vertebral stripe Hatchling are speckled green and black, with orange vertebral stripe Rounded head shape Other Names: Auroraslang Habitat: The mainly occur in grasslands but extend down into coastal scrub / bush and Fynbos in the Cape. Reproduction: Oviparous, having 3-6 eggs

21 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 21 Description: As adults there are hardly any snakes with which this species could be confused. They have a rounded head and a short thickset body. They are normally green to yellow-green in colour with an orange vertebral stripe that is present in hatchlings. Hatchling body colouration is green speckled black and could be confused with Harlequin Snakes. They feed mainly on rodents but will take lizards, and as hatchling they predominantly feed on skinks. This species rarely ever bites even when first captured, but hatchling may defecate on their attacker and let out little hissing noises. Distribution: Distribution of the Aurora House Snake

22 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 22 Brown House Snake Lamprophis capensis previously Lamprophis fuliginosus Characteristics: Brown, occasionally with some dorsal patterning in lighter brown to first third of the body Light stripe running from the tip of the nose above eye to back of jaw. White to cream ventral scales. Other Names: Bruinhuisslang Habitat: They occur in most habitats across their range. Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 18 eggs

23 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 23 Description: It is a very distinguishable species by the plain brown colouration and the white to cream V that is present on the top of the head. The lines go from the rostral scale, through or just above the eye to the back of the jawbone. This colouration is unique to this species. Juveniles have the above marking, but also have a lighter brown pattern down the sides, which may be retained in adults, particularly those found in Natal. The ventral scales are cream in colour. Xanthic (yellow or yellowish) and albino colourations have been recorded in this species, although rare. It does very well in urban areas in search for it s preferred prey of rodents, but they will also eat lizards. Hatchlings normally eat lizards, particularly skinks, but will also take newborn mice. Initially they can be a bit aggressive, biting and hissing, but soon settle down to being handled. Distribution: Distribution of the Brown House Snake

24 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 24 Olive House Snake Lamprophis inornatus Characteristics: Plain olive to black species Typical head Terrestrial - not commonly seen Other Names: Black House Snake, Nagslang, Olyfhuisslang Habitat: They occur in more moist areas in savanna, coastal belt & the bushveld. Reproduction: Oviparous, having up to 15 eggs

25 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 25 Description: These snakes are thick bodied snakes and quite large for the family. They are dark olive to black in colour with a light olive to grey-green coloured belly. It is very similar to the Brown House Snake and also has a pleasant temperament, even when first captured. The diet is the same, except they will also eat other snakes. Distribution: Distribution of the Olive House Snake

26 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 26 Spotted House Snake Lamprophis guttatus Characteristics: Flat distinctive head Dark saddles or vertebral blotches along body Found in rocky areas Blotches may merge to form zig-zag vertebral pattern Other Names: Spotted Rock Snake, Gevlekte rotsslang, Gevlekte huisslang Habitat: Prefer rocky terrain, particularly where rocks are exfoliating or onion peeling. Reproduction: Oviparous, having 3-6 eggs

27 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 27 Description: Colouration of the species is highly varied. In the region of the course they are usually grey to silvery brown with dark brown blotches along the back. In some regions these blotches may join to form a zigzag appearance. In the northern specimens the blotches are often surrounded with a darker brown to black ring. The ventral scales are yellow-white. In the day they will shelter under crevices in the rocks. It is well adapted to this habitat as the head is also relatively flat to fit under rock flakes. They are very shy & elusive snakes that rarely bite when captured. They feed almost exclusively on lizards, which they hunt at night whilst the prey is sleeping. Distribution: Distribution of the Spotted House Snake

28 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 28 Yellow-bellied House Snake Lamprophis fuscus Characteristics: Similar to Olive House Snake Often olive to brown in colour Yellowish colouration to upper labials and lower dorsal scales just above ventral scales Other Names: Geelpenshuisslang Habitat: They seem to prefer grassy rocky areas, normally in the vicinity of streams and / or treed areas. Reproduction: Oviparous, having 3-6 eggs

29 Advanced Snakes & Reptiles 29 Description: They have a yellow belly that extends up the sides of the body. Generally this band is a brighter yellow than the ventral scales. The top of the body is usually olive in colour, lightening over the upper labials. Head scales are typical with very large parietal scales, 2 Postocular scales and one preocular. Distribution: Distribution of the Yellow-bellied House Snake

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