You are here » home advanced search search results Psammophis leightoni

Psammophis leightoni BOULENGER, 1902

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Psammophis leightoni?

Add your own observation of
Psammophis leightoni »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cape Sand Snake
E: Fork-marked Sand Snake [trinasalis]
E: Namib Sand Snake [] 
SynonymPsammophis leightoni BOULENGER 1902: 126
Psammophis leightoni — BROADLEY 2002
Psammophis leightoni — MATTISON 2007: 111
Psammophis leightoni — WALLACH et al. 2014: 577
Psammophis leightoni — LOBÓN-ROVIRA et al. 2022

Psammophis sibilans trinasalis WERNER 1902: 340
Psammophis moniliger var. furcatus PETERS 1867: 236
Psammophis furcatus — LOVERIDGE 1936: 38
Psammophis sibilans trinasalis — FITZSIMONS & BRAIN 1958
Psammophis leightoni trinasalis — MERTENS 1971
Psammophis leightoni trinasalis — AUERBACH 1987: 167
Psammophis leightoni trinasalis — BAUER et al. 1995: 73
Psammophis trinasalis — BROADLEY 2002
Psammophis trinasalis — SHINE et al. 2006
Psammophis trinasalis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 581
Psammophis trinasalis — SCHLEICHER 2020

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
Psammophis namibensis — WALLACH et al. 2014: 577
Psammophis leightoni namibensis — BRANCH 1994
Psammophis leightoni namibensis — CUNNINGHAM et al. 2018
Psammophis namibiensis 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (W Cape Province)

Type locality: "Eerste River Station, 21 miles east of Cape Town, Cape Colony."

namibensis: Angola, Namibia, Republic of South Africa (Namaqualand, Northern Cape); Type locality: Harus in the Uri-Hauchab Mountains, Diamond Area No. 2, South West Africa.

trinasalis: Namibia, Angola, Botswana, Republic of South Africa; Type locality: Windhoek, South West Africa.  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.8.27, a 910 mm specimen (G. Leighton).
Holotype: DNMNH (= TM) 37093 [namibensis]
Lectotype: ZFMK 30503 (designated by P. VAN DEN ELZEN, 1980), Paralectotypes: NMW 19104 [trinasalis] 
DiagnosisDescription: (24 specimens examined). Nostril pierced between 3 nasals, 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), the first 4 in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17-17-13 rows; ventrals 155-169; cloacal shield divided; subcaudals 92-112. Brandstätter (1995, Fig. 45) has published a SEM micrograph of a dorsal scale from NMZB 3570 from the Cape Flats.
Dark brown above, top of head with a yellow stripe along the internasal/prefrontal sutures, most of supralabials, pre- and post-oculars yellow, two yellow bars across back of head. Vertebral scale row with a fine yellow line (often broken up), a yellow lateral stripe passes through scale rows 3 & 4 or fourth only, scales in outer row white at base (Broadley 1983, Fig. 84). The “chain pattern” on the side of the neck is illustrated by Boulenger (1902, pl. xii). Chin with a pattern of black streaks, ventrals with a mottled grey median band, widened at the free edge of each ventral and fading posteriorly [from BROADLEY 2002].

Description (trinasalis): (311 specimens examined). Nostril pierced between 3 nasals, upper posterior with a posterior prolongation; preocular 1 (rarely 2), in broad contact with frontal (very rarely separated); postoculars 2; temporals basically 2+2+3, but with frequent fusions; supralabials 8 (very rarely 7 or 9), fourth & fifth (very rarely third & fourth or fifth & sixth) entering orbit; infralabials 10 (rarely 9 or 11), the first 4 (very rarely 3 or 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17-17-13 rows; ventrals 150-175; cloacal shield divided; subcaudals 84-128. Brandstätter (1995, Fig. 46, 47) has published SEM micrographs of a dorsal scale from NMZB 22482 from Botswana. The lectotype has been illustrated by Van den Elzen (1980) and another Namibian specimen by Buys & Buys (1983, pl. 88). Brown above, a fine yellow vertebral line bifurcates just behind the parietals and a pair of yellow streaks extend forward over the parietals and supraoculars; a median yellow streak passes along the prefrontal/internasal sutures. A yellow dorsolateral stripe covers scale row 4 and lower half of scale row 5, the upper half being black, this stripe extends forward across the temporal region to the postoculars. The flanks are paler than the back. The labials, lower half of outer dorsal scale row and ends of ventrals are white; there is a yellow median ventral band, this may be bordered by series of grey streaks and the chin and throat usually have a pattern of sparse grey or black blotches and streaks. Eastern specimens have a dark brown dorsum, whereas those from the arid western regions are light grey-brown above and many specimens from the Etosha National Park lack dorsal markings.

Diagnosis (namibensis). 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].

Description (namibensis): (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]. 
CommentNomenclature: PETERS’ name is a junior homonym of Psammophis furcatus (BIANCONI 1859) = Psammophis punctulatus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854.

Synonymy: Psammophis leightoni trinasalis WERNER 1902 and Psammophis leightoni namibensis BROADLEY 1975 have been elevated to full species status but then synonymized again by Taft et al. 2021 (given that populations of namibensis are paraphyletic with populations of the other two species).

Distribution: see map in BROADLEY 2002: 89 (Fig. 3) and Taft et al. 2021 (Fig. 3).

NCBI taxonomy ID: 382748 [namibensis] 
EtymologyNamed after Dr. Gerald Rowley Leighton (1868-1953), a pathologist, zoologist, and herpetologist who was trained as a physician at Edinburgh (1895). 
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Bates, M.F.; Branch, W.R., Bauer, A.M.; Burger, M., Marais, J.; Alexander, G.J. & de Villliers, M.S. (eds.) 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria, 512 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, A.M.; Günther,R. & Klipfel,M. 1995. The herpetological contributions of Wilhelm C.H. Peters (1815-1883). SSAR Facsimile Reprints in Herpetology, 714 pp.
  • 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.
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • 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
  • Branch, William R. 1993. A Photographic Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Cape Town: Struik Publishers, 144 S.
  • Branch, William R. 1994. Herpetofauna of the Sperrgebeit [sic] Region of Southern Namibia. Herpetological Natural History 2 (1): 1-11.
  • Branch, William R.; Pedro Vaz Pinto, Ninda Baptista, and Werner Conradie 2019. The Reptiles of Angola: History, Diversity, Endemism and Hotspots. Chapter 13 in: B. J. Huntley et al. (eds.), Biodiversity of Angola. Springer Verlag, pp. 283-334 - get paper here
  • Broadley, D. & Blaylock 2013. The Snakes of Zimbabwe and Botswana. Chimaira, Frankfurt, 387 pp. [book review in Sauria 35 (2): 59 and Copeia 2014: 388] - 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
  • Chippaux, Jean-Philippe & Kate Jackson 2019. Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Johns Hopkins University Press, 448 pp. [detaileld review in HR 51 (1): 161] - get paper here
  • CONRADIE, W., DOUCETTE-RIISE, S., VANHOOYDONCK, B., ENGELBRECHT, H., MEASEY, G.J., & TOLLEY, K. 2011. Herpetological survey of Rooipoort Nature Reserve, Northern Cape, South Africa. African Herp News (53): 35-41 - get paper here
  • Conradie, Werner; Brian Reeves , Neil Brown, & Jan A. Venter 2016. Herpetofauna of the Oviston, Commando Drift and Tsolwana nature reserves in the arid interior of the Eastern Cape Province, South Africa. Indago 32: 81-98 - get paper here
  • Cunningham, P., Maartens, L., & Prickett, M. 2018. A contribution to the reptiles of the Kunene River Mouth area. Namibian Journal Of Environment, 2, Section B, 1-8. Retrieved from - get paper here
  • Cunningham, Peter. 2013. Psammophis namibensis (Broadley, 1975) Namib Sand Snake. Predation. African Herp News (60): 24-25 - 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
  • Gemel, R.; G. Gassner & S. Schweiger 2019. Katalog der Typen der Herpetologischen Sammlung des Naturhistorischen Museums Wien – 2018. Ann. Naturhist. Mus. Wien, B 121: 33–248
  • Herrmann, H.-W.; W.R. Branch 2013. Fifty years of herpetological research in the Namib Desert and Namibia with an updated and annotated species checklist. Journal of Arid Environments 93: 94–115 - get paper here
  • Hoffmann, L. 1987. Notes On Snakes From The Gobabeb, Namib - Naukluft Park. Psammophis leightoni: Ecology, Leptotyphlops occidentalis: size, Naja nigricollis nigricincta: Habits And Diet. J. Herp. Assoc. Africa (33): 39-39 - get paper here
  • Lobón-Rovira J, Vaz Pinto P, S. Becker F, Tolley KA, Measey J, Bennet B, Boon B, de Sá S, Conradie W 2022. An updated herpetofaunal species inventory of Iona National Park in southwestern Angola. Check List 18(2): 289-321 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1936. African reptiles and amphibians in the Field Museum of Natural History. Zool. Ser. Field Mus. Nat. Hist., Chicago, 22 (1): 1-122 - get paper here
  • Marques, Mariana P.; Luis M. P. Ceríaco , David C. Blackburn , and Aaron M. Bauer 2018. Diversity and Distribution of the Amphibians and Terrestrial Reptiles of Angola -- Atlas of Historical and Bibliographic Records (1840–2017). Proc. Cal. Acad. Sci. (Ser. 4) 65: 1-501 (Supplement II)
  • Mattison, Chris 2007. The New Encyclopedia of Snakes. Princeton University Press
  • 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
  • SANTOS, B. S. .,MARQUES, M. P. ., BAUER, A. M. ., & CERÍACO, L. M. P. . 2021. Herpetological results of Francisco Newton’s Zoological Expedition to Angola (1903–1906): a taxonomic revision and new records of a forgotten collection. Zootaxa, 5028 (1): 1–80 - get paper here
  • Schleicher, Alfred 2015. Reptilien Namibias. Namibia Scientific  Society, 276 pp.
  • Schleicher, Alfred 2020. Reptiles of Namibia. Kuiseb Publishers, Windhoek, Namibia, 271 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
  • Wallach, Van; Kenneth L. Williams , Jeff Boundy 2014. Snakes of the World: A Catalogue of Living and Extinct Species. [type catalogue] Taylor and Francis, CRC Press, 1237 pp.
  • Werner, F. 1902. Über westafrikanische Reptilien. Verh. Zool. Bot. Ges. Wien 52: 332-348
External links  
Is it interesting? Share with others:

As link to this species use URL address:

without field 'search_param'. Field 'search_param' is used for browsing search result.

Please submit feedback about this entry to the curator