Psammophis angolensis (BOCAGE, 1872)


Derivatio nominis  Etymology: named after its distribution in Angola.
Common Names Dwarf Sand Snake; Dwarf Whip Snake
Synonym Amphiophis angolensis BOCAGE 1872: 82
Amphiophis angolense — GÜNTHER 1888: 334
Ablabes Homeyeri PETERS 1877: 620
Psammophis angolensis — BROADLEY 1959
Psammophis angolensis — AUERBACH 1987: 170
Psammophis angolensis — BROADLEY 1998
Psammophis angolensis — LARGEN & SPAWLS 2010: 553 
Distribution Zimbabwe, N Botswana, NE Republic of South Africa, S/C Mozambique, NE Namibia, S Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Tanzania, Zambia, Angola, Malawi, Ethiopia (relict population); elevation 0-1500 m.

Type locality: “Pungo Andongo” [Angola; Ablabes Homeyeri PETERS 1877]
Type locality: Dondo, Angola.

Map legend:
- Region according to the TDWG standard, not a precise distribution map.
Types Holotype: ZMB 9209 [Ablabes Homeyeri PETERS 1877] 
Description Description (155 specimens examined): Nostril pierced between 2 nasals; preocular 1, usually widely separated from frontal; postoculars 2; temporals usually1+2; supralabials 8 (rarely 6, 7 or 9), the fourth & fifth (rarely third & fourth, fourth only or fifth & sixth) entering orbit; infralabials 8 (rarely 7 or 9), the first 4 (rarely 3 or 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 11-11-11 rows (9 in NMZB 1075 only); ventrals 133-157; cloacal shield divided; subcaudals 58-80. Head dark brown, three narrow yellow transverse bands posteriorly, supralabials white; neck dark brown with one or two grey crossbands which broaden laterally, a dark brown black-edged dorsal band three scales wide, greyish or yellowish laterally, sometimes with black hairlines through the outer two scale rows. Ventrum and lower half of outer scale row white or yellow, uniform or with an ill defined lateral series of dark flecks, sometimes a midventral pale orange band present [from BROADLEY 2002].

Size: up to 352 + 148 = 500 mm (1); "It grows to an average length of 30 cm and a maximum length of 50 cm."(2).

Lays between 3 and 5 eggs in summer (2).

Habitat Widespread in savannas from sea level to 1500 m. (1) "Its favoured habitat is moist savanna."(2)
Eaten by birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles) and other snakes (2)
Food Eats lizards and frogs (2)
  • Auerbach,R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bocage, J. V. B. 1872. Diagnoses de quelques espéces nouvelles de Reptiles d'Afrique occidentale. Jorn. Sci. Lisbon 4: 72-82.
  • 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. 1998. The reptilian fauna of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (Congo-Kinshasa). In: Schmidt, K.P. and Noble, G.K., Contributions to the Herpetology of the Belgian Congo... [reprint of the 1919 and 1923 papers]. SSAR Facsimile reprints in Herpetology, 780 pp.
  • Broadley, D.G. 2002. A review of the species of Psammophis Boie found south of Latitude 12° S (Serpentes: Psammophiinae). Afr. J. Herpetol. 51 (2): 83-119 - 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]
  • Broadley, Donald G. and F. P. D. Cotterill. 2004. The reptiles of southeast Katanga, an overlooked 'hot spot'. [Congo] African Journal of Herpetology 53 (1): 35-61. - get paper here
  • 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
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
  • FitzSimons, V.F.M. 1974. A field guide to the snakes of Southern Africa. 2nd edition. COLLINS, 221 pp. [first ed. 1970]
  • Günther,A. 1888. Contribution to the knowledge of snakes of tropical Africa. Ann. Mag. nat. Hist. (6) 1: 322-335 - get paper here
  • Haagner,G.V.; Branch,W.R. & Haagner,A.J.F. 2000. Notes on a collection of reptiles from Zambia and adjacent areas of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Annals of the Eastern Cape Museum 1: 1 – 25
  • Largen, M.J.; Spawls, S. 2010. Amphibians and Reptiles of Ethiopia and Eritrea. Edition Chimaira, Frankfurt, 694 pp.
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1877. Nachtrag [Übersicht der Amphibien aus Chinchoxo (Westafrika), welche von der Africanischen Gesellschaft dem Berliner zoologischen Museum übergeben sind]. Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1877 (October): 620-621 - get paper here
  • 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]


Picture by Ockert Groenewald, Facebook group Snakes of South Africa, March 2015. Potgietersrus, South Africa. Picture by Botma in the Facebook group Snakes of South Africa, March 2015
Picture by Botma in the Facebook group Snakes of South Africa, March 2015