Natal black snake records for East London (2017/2018)

On the 23rd January 2017 on a rainy evening (at approximately 20h42) a Natal black snake was noted crossing a grassed area at the home of museum scientist Kevin Cole in Beacon Bay. Sightings of these reptiles is not very often and research is underway to improve distributions records for the species. A previous unverified record of a Natal black snake at the Nahoon Point Nature Reserve has also been noted.

n black snake1

Natal black snake Macrelaps microlepidotus, Beacon Bay, East London. Photo: Kevin Cole

On the 19th February 2018 the museum received a live specimen which was released after a DNA sample was taken for research purposes.

AAAABlog March

These fossorial snakes have a blunt head with grooved rear fangs situated just below the eyes. The species also has smooth and very highly polished scales (as noted in the photos above).  They are shy snakes which are rarely seen with a docile manner (reluctant to bite). The venomous bite, however, can result in the loss of consciousness in humans. Prey species include lizards, small rodents, frogs and other snakes. They are also noted to constrict larger prey if need be. Carrion has also been recorded in its diet.

They lay between 3-10 large eggs with young being between 20-29 cm in length when they hatch. This snake is endemic to South Africa.

Reference: A guide to the reptiles of southern Africa by Graham Alexander and Johan Marais


About East London Museum Science

Conservation Biologist East London Museum South Africa
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