Spotted Skaapsteker crossing a mountain road – Drakensberg (NE Eastern Cape Province)

A large specimen of Spotted Skaapsteker, Psammophylax rhombeatus, was photographed last weekend crossing the road close to the Bastervoetpad turn-off on the dirt road to Rhodes village from Elliot. These snakes inhabit a wide variety of vegetation types from the coast to mountaintops (as was almost the case here). They are diurnal feeding on rodents, lizards, birds, frogs and other snakes.

The females lay 8-30 eggs in summer and because the embryos are partially developed when the eggs are laid, incubation periods are reduced to approximately six weeks. The pose no threat to people and the venom is thought not to be harmful.

Psammophylax rhombeatus Credit: Kevin Cole

Psammophylax rhombeatus Credit: Kevin Cole

The average length of the species is between 45-85 cm and some have been known to exceed 1.4 m. Enemies include predatory birds and other snakes.

Another species of Skaapsteker, the Striped Skaapsteker (Psammophylax tritaeniatus), inhabits the more open grassland, moist savannah and karoo scrub.

Reference: A complete guide to the snakes of southern Africa by Johan Marais.

About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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