Southern Brown Egg-eater

Visitors to the museum recently brought in a Southern Brown Egg-eater which was found in the Chintsa area close to East London.

The scientific name for the species is Dasypeltis inornata. These snakes are mostly active at night and one of the distinguishing charateristics of the species is the small head (barely discernable from the neck). It also has a vertical pupil in the eye.

Southern Brown Egg-eater

Southern Brown Egg-eater
Dasypeltis inornata
Pic: Grace Nkohla

Most obviously food consists of birds eggs. A virtually toothless mouth takes the egg in and this is passed onto the neck region. Eggs are cracked lengthwise here by bony projections which are part of the veterbrae. Further muscular contraction crushes the egg and the contents are swallowed.

The crushed shell is re-gurgitated in a neat package (which is boat-shaped). Shell pieces are held together by underlying egg membrane.

Reference: A Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa by Johan Marais (2004).

About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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