Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia (GÜNTHER, 1864)

Higher Taxa Lamprophiidae, Psammophiinae, Serpentes (snakes) 
General Very small in length, slender, cylindrical bodied snake with a moderately long tail. Can grow to a maximum of about 0.49 metres. Head is flattened and distinct from neck. Supraoculars are slightly raised. Snout is bluntly rounded. Eyes are moderately small in size with round to slightly vertically elliptical pupils. Dorsal scales are smooth. Ventrals are rounded. Dorsal scale count 17 - 17 - 13.
Arboreal or semi-arboreal snake which tends to shelter under loose bark. Feeds with its head hung down from a branch. Not known to bite.
Common Names (South-) Eastern Bark Snake, Mopane Snake; Oostelike basslang; Mopanieslang [Afrikaans]
Synonym Coronella nototaenia GÜNTHER 1864: 309
Tachymenis nototaenia — PETERS 1882: 118 (part.)
Amphiophis nototaenia — BOULENGER 1891: 307
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia — STEJNEGER 1893: 730
Psammophylax nototaenia — BOCAGE 1895: 109
Amplorhinus nototaenia — BOULENGER 1896 (part.)
Amplorhinus güntheri MOCQUARD 1906: 251
Amplorhinus nototaenia — LOVERIDGE 1936: 36
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia nototaenia — BOGERT 1940
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia nototaenia — AUERBACH 1987: 161
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia nototaenia — BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991: 27
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia — BROADLEY 1997
Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia — CHIRIO & INEICH 2006 
Description Broadley 1959: "Variation. (6 specimens.) Midbody scale rows 17; ventrals 164-168; anal divided; subcaudals 72-83; upper labials 7 or 8, the third and fourth or fourth and fifth entering the orbit; lower labials 9, the first four in contact with the anterior sublinguals; preocular 1; postoculars 2; temporals 1+2, rarely 1+3. Tail length .23 to .27 of the total."

Ìdem: "Colouration. Dark ash grey or grey-brown above; top of head black, continuing as a vertebral stripe about three scales in width, which is black on the neck, but less well defined on the rest of the body. A row of black spots nierges with the vertebral stripe on either side. These raay be opposed to form cross-bars or alternated to form a zigzag. A dark streak on either side of the head passes through the eye and fades out 011 the neck. Below, mottled in ash grey or grey-brown and dirty white."

Idem: "Size. Largest (UM/R.332) 370 (280+90) mm. from Mount Darwin."


Distribution Namibia, N Botswana, NE Republic of South Africa (Transvaal, Natal), Zimbabwe, S/C Mozambique, S Angola, S Sudan, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, N/S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Benin ? (not reported from Benin according to ULLENBRUCH et al. 2010), Burkina Faso

Type locality: “Kitui (Ukamba)” [Kenya]
Type locality: Rios de Sena, Mozambique [fide BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991]

Broadley 1959: "Distribution. Found in the low-lying river valleys of Southern Rhodesia. The species seems to be closely assoeiated with dry Mopani bush.
Localities: Zambezi River, 40 miles east of Chirundu; Matetsi; Macheke-Sabi Junction, Wedza Reserve; Devon Farm, Odzi River; Ramaquabane River; Beitbridge; Mount Darwin."

Map legend:
This map is based on occurrence records available through the GBIF network and may not represent the entire distribution.


Countries where exists Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia

Facebook, East African Snakes & other reptiles, 28 May 2016:
Seamus Burns: "Caught a small one of these in Watamu at my house around Christmas 2015."
Kloppers found it in Kalama Concervancy, Central Kenya.
Odile Keane: " My favourite! See in Watamu often."


Types Holotype: ZMB 9282 
Habitat Lowland dry savanna grassland and woodland, semi-desert up to about 1500 metres.

Broadley 1959: "Habitat. A Bark-Snake was taken at 11 a.m. as it was crawling on the ground under Mopani trees with no undergrowth. This was in the Wedza Reserve, between the Macheke and Sabi rivers (W. Armitage)."

Comment Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia viperinus has been elevated to species status by BROADLEY 1997. Hemirhagerrhis hildebrandtii has been removed from synonymy of H. nototaenia by BROADLEY & HUGHES 2000.
Reproduction Oviparous (egg-laying), lays between 2 and 8 eggs in summer.
Habitat "Broadley (1983) recorded this species in the vicinity of the Banhine Swamps. It is likely to occur in the
extensive belts of mopane woodland Colophospermum mopane, a habitat that was not extensively covered during either of the survey periods"(Pietersen 2013). 'Sandveld' is land, characterized by dry, sandy soil. Origin: Afrikaans, from Dutch zand 'sand' + veld 'terrain'.

Medical importance The venom of this snake is weak and unlikely to be harmful to man.
Food Eats small lizards (particularly skinks and day geckos - see photo above) and rarely frogs. Possibly reptile eggs.
Scalation See Sean Thomas
  • Auerbach,R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bocage,J.V. du B. 1895. Herpétologie d'Angola et du Congo. Lisbon: Imprimerie Nationale, i-xx, 203 pp.
  • Bogert, Charles M. 1942. Snakes secured by the Snyder East African Expedition in Kenya Colony and Tanganyika Territory American Museum Novitates (1178): 1-5 - get paper here
  • Bogert,C.M. 1940. Herpetological results of the Vernay Angola Expedition. I. Snakes, including an arrangement of the African Colubridae. Bull. Amer. Mus. Nat. Hist. 77: 1-107
  • Boulenger, G.A. 1896. Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum, Vol. 3. London (Taylor & Francis), xiv + 727 pp.
  • Boulenger, George A. 1891. On the state of our knowledge of the reptiles and amphibians of British Central Africa. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1891: 305-309 - get paper here
  • Branch, W.R.; Rödel, M.-O. & Marais, J. 2005. Herpetological survey of the Niassa Game Reserve, northern Mozambique - Part I: Reptiles. Salamandra 41 (4): 195-214 - get paper here
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Broadley, D. G. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1959. The herpetology of Southern Rhodesia. Part I--the snakes Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 120 (1): 1-100 [reprint 1972] - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G.; Doria, C.T. & Wigge, J. 2003. Snakes of Zambia. An Atlas and Field Guide. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 280 pp. [review in Sauria 26 (3): 21]
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  • Broadley,D.G. 1962. On some reptile collections from the North-Western and North-Eastern Districts of Southern Rhodesia 1958-1961, with descriptions of four new lizards. Occ. Pap. Nat. Mus. South. Rhodesia 26 (B): 787-843
  • Broadley,D.G. 1997. A review of Hemirhagerrhis viperina (Bocage) (Serpentes: Colubridae), a rupicolous Psammophine snake. Madoqua 19 (2): 161-169
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
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  • Chirio, L. 2009. Inventaire des reptiles de la région de la Réserve de Biosphère Transfrontalière du W (Niger/Bénin/Burkina Faso: Afrique de l’Ouest). [Herpetological survey of the W Transfrontier Biosphere Reserve area (Niger/Benin/Burkina Faso: West Africa] Bull. Soc. Herp. France (132): 13-41 - get paper here
  • Chirio, Laurent and Ivan Ineich 2006. Biogeography of the reptiles of the Central African Republic. African Journal of Herpetology 55(1):23-59. - get paper here
  • Chirio, Laurent;Ineich, Ivan 1993. Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia (bark snake). Niger: town of Maradi Herpetological Review 24 (4): 156
  • Günther,A. 1864. Report on a collection of reptiles and fishes made by Dr. Kirk in the Zambesi and Nyassa Regions. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1864: 303-314 [310] - get paper here
  • Günther,A. 1888. Contribution to the knowledge of snakes of tropical Africa. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 1: 322-335 - get paper here
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  • 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]
  • Stejneger, L. 1893. On some collections of reptiles and batrachians from East Africa and the adjacent islands, recently received from Dr. W. L. Abbott and Mr. William Astor Chanler, with descriptions of new species. Proc. US Natl. Mus. 16: 711-741
  • Sternfeld, R. 1910. Zur Schlangenfauna Deutsch-Südwestafrikas. Mehrere Fälle von Mimikry bei afrikanischen Schlangen. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin, 5: 51-60
  • Trape, J.-F. & Mane, Y. 2006. Guide des serpents d’Afrique occidentale. Savane et désert. [Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger]. IRD Editions, Paris, 226 pp.
External links  


André Coetzer posted this picture in Reptiles of Southern Africa in May 2015. "I always say that you can't go and look for bark snakes... they look for you.
I got this one, the biggest one I've seen last weekend in Klaserie Game reserve, Limpopo Province."
About 30-35 cm.
Kloppers: "Hemirhagerrhis nototaenia - Bark/Mopane Snake. This little beaut just had breakfast by the looks of it. Kalama Concervancy, Central Kenya."


A nice video by Lindsey Jones, published in the Facebook group Snakes of South Africa, taken in Umbabat Nature Reserve.