Breeding of Psammophis phillipsi in 2018

By Cesare Colli

(ABOVE: mating. The female is the larger one)

Psammophis phillipsi are slender, shy and very fast snakes living in the western part of Africa. Males and female reach 140 cm or more. They are good climbers and feed primarily on lizards, rodents, but also frogs and chicks.
My experience with Psammophis sp. began in 2006, but with phillipsi in 2016 with a baby CB male. I got it from an importer, it was about 30 cm long and fed on dead pinkies. It grew very fast , at the age of 7 months it was 52 cm long, 10 months 60 cm, at one year old was 54+23 cm (77 total length). At 14 months it was 89 cm, and 103 cm at 17 months.

Below are pictures of the male at 5 and 13 months.

I got female from a friend of mine on February 2017, it was WC, about 4 years old and came from Ghana. It was 96+40 cm (total length 136 cm). It laid 13 not fertile eggs on 9 June 2017 (see picture below).

Both fed on dead mice, but also thawed frogs and pieces of adult quail without problems.
They were well accustomed to life in captivity. All snakes were kept in a room that around the year had a temperature ranging from 14C to 27C. Of course I put a hot spot in every terrarium, which during the winter was switched on for 24 hours a day. I added a branch in every terrarium, a water bowl and some hiding place. The cages were 80x40x40 cm.
I use two different substrates: straw/hay and aspen bedding. A second source of moisture (by means of a wet sponge) in addition to the water bowl, was used to prevent that the skin of the snakes would get too dry, causing shedding difficulties.
In January 2018, both animals fed well and regularly. On the morning of January 6, almost as a trial, I decided to put the female with the young male (20 months old) and immediately saw the preliminaries to mating. The two snakes were kept together for 4 weeks. The female shed once and ate a lot until February 7, when she took her last meal, On February 5 she shed for the last time before the deposition of the eggs, which occurred February 11(36 days after the first meeting).
The eggs were beautiful, 12 eggs fertile and 1 slug. They were round and white and about 18-20 mm x 25-30 mm. I saw, by candling, that all were fertile.

One week later 3 eggs spoiled and I threw them away (look at the red X for spoiled eggs). After spawning the female was very thin, but she started to eat again after a week.
The incubation was at 26-30C and at day 38th I saw little movements of one snake in the egg.

The first snake hatched after 75 days (see picture above) and the second after 78.The first was 23+10cm long (SVL+TL) and weight 7grams, the second 22+9 cm at 5,5 grams, the third 17+7 cm at 4,5grams, the fourth 21+8,5 cm at 7grams, the next three were all 23+10 cm and weighted 6 grams. The last two hatched 10 days after the first.

After laying 12 viable eggs, the female also layed 6 slugs. So I think that this species can lay at least 18 eggs in a clutch.

ABOVE: Adult female just after shedding.

Now Im waiting for the first shed, then I will try to feed them, probably it will not be easy.

For more information: simoneluigi.c@gmail.com