Grass Snakes of the Eastern Cape

Whether you call them whip snakes, grass snakes or sand snakes, what these snakes all have in common is that they are slender, gorgeous and lightning quick. This post is dedicated to all the snakes from the sub-family Psammophiinae, that are found in the Eastern Cape. This group is large and incredibly diverse, with members of this sub-family being found from the tip of South Africa, all the way to India.

While many of these snakes are hard to differentiate given of their similar morphology, lucky for us, there are only five snakes from this sub-family in the Eastern Cape. Two genera of this group are found in the province, four from Psammophis (whip/sand/grass snake) and one from Psammophylax (skaapsteker or grass snake). The fork-marked whip snake (Psammophis trinasalis) is the only snake not listed below, as it is only found in a very small region at the top of the Eastern Cape. All the snakes listed below are mildly venomous, but their venom is of no concern to humans.

Spotted Skaapsteker (Psammophylax rhombeatus)

Size: 45-85cm.

Habits: A fast-moving, diurnal species which can be found in a large range of habitats, mainly under rocks and fallen debris.

Diet: Mainly rodents, but also eats lizards, birds, frogs and other snakes.

Danger to man: Mildly venomous species which may cause localized swelling, but the venom is not capable of killing or even hospitalizing humans.

Similar species: Easily confused with the other species of grass and whip snake found in the Eastern Cape.

Cross-marked Whip Snake (Psammophis crucifer)

Psammophis_crucifer_Cross-marked_Whip_Snake_Chad_Keates (4)Psammophis_crucifer_Cross-marked_Whip_Snake_Chad_Keates

Size: 40-60cm.

Habits: A slender, fast-moving snake that can often be found basking atop grass tufts during the day. When not actively moving, this snake can be found beneath rocks, logs, tufts of grass and inside derelict termite mounds.

Diet: Lizards, geckos and frogs.

Danger to man: Mildly venomous, but the venom is of no concern to humans.

Similar species: Easily confused with the other species of grass and whip snake found in the Eastern Cape.

Karoo Whip Snake (Psammophis notostictus)

Size: 90cm.

Habits: A slender, fast-moving snake that can seen chasing after lizards during the day. When not actively moving, this snake can be found beneath rocks and inside derelict termite mounds.

Diet: Mainly lizards, but has been known to take small rodents.

Danger to man: Mildly venomous, but the venom is of no concern to humans.

Similar species: Easily confused with the other species of grass and whip snake found in the Eastern Cape.

Short-snouted Whip Snake (Psammophis brevirostris)

Size: 60cm.

Habits: A slender, fast-moving snake that can often be found basking atop grass tufts during the day. When not actively moving, this snake can be found beneath rocks, logs and tufts of grass.

Diet: Rodents, snakes and other small vertebrates.

Danger to man: Mildly venomous, but the venom is of no concern to humans.

Similar species: Easily confused with the other species of grass and whip snake found in the Eastern Cape.

One thought on “Grass Snakes of the Eastern Cape

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s