Psammophis leopardinus BOCAGE, 1887

Common Names Leopard Grass Snake, Leopard Sand Snake 
Synonym Psammophis sibilans leopardinus BOCAGE 1887
Synonyms Psammophis breviceps leopardinus
Psammophis sibilans leopardinus - BAUER et al. 1993
Psammophis sibilans leopardinus - MATTISON 1995: 225
Psammophis brevirostris leopardinus - AAGNER et al. 2000
Psammophis leopardinus - BROADLEY 2002
Psammophis leopardinus - HUGHES 2002 
Distribution SW Angola, NW Namibia, Zambia
Comment Populations from Zambia have been redescribed as P. zambiensis.
Description (140 specimens examined): Nostril pierced between 2 (rarely 3) nasals; preocular 1 usually separated from frontal; postoculars 2; temporals basically 2+2+3, but with frequent fusions; supralabials 8, fourth & fifth entering orbit; infralabials usually 10 (rarely 8, 9 or 11), the first 4 (rarely 3 or 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17- 17-13 rows; ventrals 149-174; cloacal shield divided; subcaudals 79-108. Dorsum light red-brown, grey-brown or olive, a pale black-edged median stripe extends from rostral to frontal, where it forks and passes down each side, another pale black-edged stripe extends from the rostral along the canthus rostralis to the upper postocular, where it meets a pale band which crosses the posterior end of the frontal and passes through the postoculars to the lip, two more pale bars cross the back of the head and there may be faint crossbands on the neck. The well developed head pattern of ZFMK 29476 from Omandumba West, Erongo, has been illustrated by Van den Elzen (1980, Fig. 4). The vertebral scale row usually has a pale median stripe, the scales being margined with black, a pair of pale dorsolateral stripes on scale rows 4 and 5, edged with black above; anteriorly the pale stripes are linked by crossbands to form a chain-like pattern (Broadley 1977, Pl. ii; Buys & Buys 1983, Pl. 89), or the pale vertebral line may be suppressed to give a ladder-like dorsal pattern (Mertens 1955, Pl. 15, Fig. 68). Many specimens, particularly from Etosha National Park and environs, lack the typical leopardinus dorsal pattern and are uniform grey above, sometimes retaining head markings. The chin and throat may have grey blotches on each scale, forming a symmetrical pattern, there may be one or two pairs of lateral broken lines on the ventrals, sometimes with grey spots or streaks between them (patterns similar to those found in P. schokari) [from BROADLEY 2002].
Distribution SW Angola, NW Namibia, Zambia
  • Bauer, Aaron M.; Branch, William R. & Haacke, Wulf D. 1993. The herpetofauna of the Kamanjab area and adjacent Damaraland, Namibia. Madoqua (Windhoek), 18 (2): 117-145.
  • Bocage, J.V.B. de 1887. Mélanges herpétologiques. IV. Reptiles du dernier voyage de MM. Capello et Ivens à travers l'Afrique. Jorn. Sci. math. phys. nat., Lisboa, 11 (44): 201-208
  • Bocage, J.V.B. du 1887. Zoologia Melanges erpetologiques. I. Reptiles et Batraciens du Congo. [...] V. Reptiles et Batraciens de Quissange, Benguella, envoyes par M. J. d‘Anchieta. Jorn. Sci. math. phys. nat., Lisboa, 11: 177-211
  • Broadley, D.G. 2002. A review of the species of Psammophis Boie found south of Latitude 12° S (Serpentes: Psammophiinae). African Journal of Herpetology 51 (2): 83-119 - get paper here. Abstract.
  • 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
  • Hughes, B. 2002. On the African leopard whip snake, Psammophis leopardinus Bocage, 1887 (Serpentes, Colubridae), with the description of a new species from Zambia. Bull. nat. Hist. Mus. Lond (Zool.), 68(2): 75-81
  • Mattison, Chris 1995. The Encyclopedia of Snakes. New York: Facts on File, 256 pp.
  • Shine, Richard; William R. Branch, Jonathan K. Webb, Peter S. Harlow, and Terri Shine 2006. Sexual Dimorphism, Reproductive Biology, and Dietary Habits of Psammophiine Snakes (Colubridae) from Southern Africa. Copeia 2006 (4): 650-664 -get paper here