Psammophis punctulatus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON, 1854

Subspecies Psammophis punctulatus punctulatus DUMÉRIL, BIBRON & BIBRON 1854
Psammophis punctulatus trivirgatus PETERS 1878 
Common Names E: Speckled Sand Racer, Sand snake 
Synonym Psammophis punctulatus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854: 897
Psammophis punctulatus — BOULENGER 1895
Psammophis punctulatus — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 560

Psammophis punctulatus trivirgatus PETERS 1878
Psammophis punctulatus var. trivirgatus PETERS 1878: 206
Psammophis punctulatus trivirgatus — PITMAN 1974
Psammophis trivirgatus — LANZA 1988
Psammophis punctulatus trivirgatus — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 27 
Distribution Sudan, N. Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti, Uganda, N. Somalia, NE. Kenya, N. Tanzania (1)

P. p. trivirgatus: Somalia, Kenya, south to Arusha and Same, Tanzania; Type locality: Teita, Kenya. (1)

This is not a precise distribution map!


Description "A medium to large, slender snake reaching up to 1,900 mm. Tail long, tail / total length = 0.27-0.3. Eyes notably large and bulging, nostril in a divided nasal; loreal elongate, longer than nasals; 9 supralabials, usually fifth and sixth enter the eye, 10 infralabials; 170-198 ventrals, 158-178 paired subcaudals, dorsals smooth, 17 scale rows around mid-body, anal divided. Two Egyptian examples were between 900-1200 mm long. Dorsal side of head and neck plain light olive-gray. Two narrow black stripes extended on each side of the head from the snout through the eyes, merging on the nape, forming a single broad black median stripe that extends posteriorly to the tail tip. This median stripe is bordered on each side by a narrow yellowish stripe, followed by a broad gray band on each flank. Venter white with scattered black spots, throat and labials white." (2)
Habitat "Lightly vegetated hills in dry Acacia scrubland."(2)
Behaviour "Diurnal. The Gebel Elba examples were found in the late afternoon, at an elevation of between 200-500 meters. One of the animals was encountered while it was pursuing a Ptyodactylus ragazzii across a large boulder, in a small, fairly well-vegetated gully."(2)
Comment trivirgatus may be a valid species (Largen & Rasmussen 1993).

Distribution: CORKILL & COCHRANE 1966 list this species from the Arabian peninsula, probably in error.(1) 
  • Baha El Din, Sherif and Osama Fathalla Ghazali 2005. On the occurrence of Psammophis punctulatus Bibron & Duméril 1854 in Egypt. Herpetological Bulletin 94:4-5.
  • Boulenger,G.A. 1895. Rettili e Batraci. in, Esplorazione del Giuba e dei suoi Affluenti compiuta dal Cap. V. Bottego durante gli Anni 1892-93 sotto gli auspicii della Società Geografica Italiana. Annali Mus. civ. Stor. nat. Giacomo Doria (2) 15: 9-18
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Cimatti, E. 2005. Scaly encounters in Kenya. Reptilia (GB) (42): 65-69 - get paper here
  • Corkill, N. L. and Cochrane, J. A. 1966. The snakes of the Arabian Peninsula and Socotra. J. Bombay nat. Hist. Soc. 62 (3): 475-506 (1965)
  • Duméril, A. M. C., BIBRON, G. & DUMÉRIL, A. H. A., 1854. Erpétologie générale ou histoire naturelle complète des reptiles. Tome septième. Deuxième partie, comprenant l'histoire des serpents venimeux. Paris, Librairie Encyclopédique de Roret: i-xii + 781-1536 - get paper here
  • Ineich, I. 1999. Reptiles & Amphibiens de la République de Djibouti. BNDB, UICN, PNUD, Djibouti & MNHN, Paris, 60 pp. - get paper here
  • Lanza, B. 1990. Amphibians and reptiles of the Somali Democratic Republic: check list and biogeography. Biogeographia, 14: 407-465 [1988]
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Largen,M.J. 1997. An annotated checklist of the amphibians and reptiles of Eritrea, with keys for their identification. Tropical Zoology 10: 63-115
  • Largen,M.J. & Rasmussen,J.B. 1993. Catalogue of the snakes of Ethiopia (Reptilia Serpentes), including identification keys. Tropical Zoology 6: 313-434
  • Mazuch, Tomáš 2013. Amphibians and Reptiles of Somaliland and Eastern Ethiopia. Tomáš Mazuch Publishing, 80 pp. ISBN: 978-80-905439-0-4 - get paper here
  • Peters,W.C.H. 1878. Über die von Hrn. J. M. Hildebrandt während seiner letzten ostafrikanischen Reise gesammelten Säugethiere und Amphibien. Mber. Akad. Wiss. Berlin 1878: 194-209
  • Pitman,C.R.S. 1974. A guide to the snakes of Uganda. Codicote, Wheldon & Wesley, L., 290 pp.
  • Spawls, S.; Howell, K.; Drewes, R.C. & Ashe, J. 2001. A field guide to the reptiles of East Africa. Academic Press, 543 pp. [reviews in HR 34: 396 and Afr. J. Herp. 51; 147]
  • Werner,F. 1919. Wissenschaftliche Ergebnisse der mit Unterstützung der Kaiserlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften in Wien aus der Erbschaft Treitl von F. Werner unternommenen zoologischen Expedition nach dem Anglo-Aegyptischen Sudan (Kordofan) 1914. IV. Bearbeitung de Denkschr. Akad. Wiss Wien, Math.-Naturw. Klasse 96: 437-509 - get paper here


Picture by Jeen Gichuhi Jinoo Chinkufake‎ in the Facebook group East African Snakes & other reptiles, 24 April 2015. "We call it ndaza ng'ombe in my native:taita language."    
Picture by Neville Sheldrick in the Facebook group ‎East African Snakes & other reptiles, mMay 2016. ·


  1. The Reptile Database
  2. iNaturalist.org