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Psammophis namibensis BROADLEY, 1975

Photo by Tommy's Living Desert, Non-profit organisation.

Common Names Namib Sand Snake 
Synonym Psammophis leightoni namibensis BROADLEY 1975
Psammophis leightoni namibensis — BAUER et al. 1993
Psammophis namibensis — BROADLEY 2002
Psammophis namibensis — BAUER & BRANCH 2003
Psammophis namibensis — SHINE et al. 2006 
Distribution Namibia

Type locality: Harus in the Uri-Hauchab Mountains, Diamond Area No. 2, South West Africa.

Map according to Virtual Museum
 
Types Holotype. TM 37093 
Description Description: (118 specimens examined). Nostril pierced between 3 nasals, the upper posterior with a posterior prolongation; preocular 1, in broad contact with frontal; postoculars 2; temporals basically 2+2+3, but with frequent fusions; supralabials 8, fourth & fifth entering orbit; infralabials 10 (rarely 9 or11), the first 4 (rarely 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17-17-13 rows; ventrals 167-188; cloacal shield divided; subcaudals 90-116. Colour pattern similar to that of P. leightoni in the south, but this breaks up into a black and yellow speckled pattern further north [from BROADLEY 2002].

A race of P. leightoni, differing from both described subspecies in its more numerous ventrals (Fig. 3). The typical markings of the subspecies (Plate I) are distinctive, but there is clinal variation in markings, southern specimens being close to typical leightoni in pattern, while eastern specimens come close to trinasalis. This appears to be the largest form in the P. leightoni / notostictus group (Fig. 6), with six specimens exceeding 750 mm in snout-vent length [from BROADLEY 1975]. 

Branch 1988 considered it a subspecies of P. leightoni and described it: "the Namib sand snake, P. l. namibensis, has the top of the head spotted or barred, 167-187 ventrals, and 94-112 subcaudals; it is found in Namaqualand, extending through Namib desert, to S. Angola."

Habitat Read the interesting paper of Juergens et. al. 2012 for details about the vegetation in that region.
References
  • Auerbach,R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bauer, A.M., and Branch, W.R. 2003. The herpetofauna of the Richtersveld National Park, Northern Cape Province, Republic of South Africa. Herpetological Natural History 8: 111-160 [2001]
  • 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.
  • Bauer,A.M.; Günther,R. & Klipfel,M. 1995. The herpetological contributions of Wilhelm C.H. Peters (1815-1883). SSAR Facsimile Reprints in Herpetology, 714 pp.
  • Boulenger, G. A. 1902. Description of a new snake of the genus Psammophis, from Cape Colony. Proc. Zool. Soc. London 1902: 126 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D.G. 1975. A review of Psammophis leightoni and Psammophis notosticus in southem Africa (Serpentes: Colubridae). Arnoldia 7 (13): 1-17
  • 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
  • FitzSimons, V.F.M. 1974. A field guide to the snakes of Southern Africa. 2nd edition. COLLINS, 221 pp. [first ed. 1970]
  • Fitzsimons, V.F.M.; Brain, C.K. 1958. A Short account of the Reptiles of the Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. Koedoe, 1(1): 99-104 - get paper here
  • Peters, Wilhem Carl Hartwig 1867. Über eine Sammlung von Flederthieren und Amphibien aus Otjimbingue in Südwestafrica, welche Hr. Missionär Hahn dem zoologischen Museum zugesandt hat. Monatsber. königl. Akad. Wiss. Berlin. 1867 (April): 234-237 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Werner, F. 1902. Über westafrikanische Reptilien. Verh. Zool. Bot. Ges. Wien 52: 332-348
 

Photographs

Photo by I.C, Riddell. Click to view original page.
This animal was named P. leightoni, and found halfway between Swakopmund and Walvisbaai, more or less the same area as the next photo by Chantelle Bosch.
Chantelle Bosch (2015):
"Possibly the BEST sighting I EVER had of Psammophis namibensis... EVER. Taken in Namibia, about 50km east of Walvis Bay, this HUGE Namib Sandsnake (I estimated her about 1.2 - 1.3m) caught a smaller Namib Sandsnake for lunch! Unfortunately my guests had to get to Walvis Airport, and I could only hang around long enough to take 4 photos, then the larger one picked up it's head (about 25cm off the ground) and ran off still with the smaller one in it's mouth. I WISH I could hang around to have seen the end result! I have to add that these two were IN the road, and travelling at 110km/h I saw them at the last moment and managed to miss them by less than a metre with my tyres! I went to the office later and told them that the brakes on the car works really well!"
 
Picture by Henk Labuschagne in the facebook group Snakes of Namibia, 2015. Photo by Chantelle Bosch.
"Here are 2 close-ups of the beautiful dorsal stripe on a Namib Sandsnake (Psammophis namibensis). I just love how each scale is divided into having different colours in order to make a large and beautiful pattern!"
Photo by Chantelle Bosch.
"Here are 2 close-ups of the beautiful dorsal stripe on a Namib Sandsnake (Psammophis namibensis). I just love how each scale is divided into having different colours in order to make a large and beautiful pattern!"
Juvenile namibensis: "This young Namib Sandsnake was still a bit cold, and laid down flat on the hand in order to absorb some heat." Photo by Chantal Bosch.
"This one was about 1 meter long, they can grow to about 1.4 meters. It is mildly venomous, but the venom does not have much effect on man, it stings a little bit for aboout 20 minutes with some swelling, but you have more chance of getting an infection from the bite."
Photo by Chantelle Bosch.
Picture by Willemien Gouws in Snakes of Namibia, 1 May 2015. Juvenile. Hentiesbaai, Namibia.
Picture by Willemien Gouws in Snakes of Namibia, 1 May 2015. Juvenile. Hentiesbaai, Namibia. Picture by Mathilde Brassine‎ in the FB group Snakes of Namibia, 4 May 2015. "Seen just now at Cape Cross, right next to the crosses."
Picture by Mathilde Brassine‎ in the FB group Snakes of Namibia, 4 May 2015. "Seen just now at Cape Cross, right next to the crosses." Picture by Mathilde Brassine‎ in the FB group Snakes of Namibia, 4 May 2015. "Seen just now at Cape Cross, right next to the crosses."

 

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