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Psammophis leightoni BOULENGER, 1902

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Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Cape Sand Snake 
SynonymPsammophis leightoni BOULENGER 1902: 126
Psammophis leightoni — BROADLEY 2002
Psammophis leightoni — MATTISON 2007: 111
Psammophis leightoni — WALLACH et al. 2014: 577 
DistributionRepublic of South Africa (W Cape Province)

Type locality: "Eerste River Station, 21 miles east of Cape Town, Cape Colony."  
TypesHolotype: BMNH 1946.1.8.27, a 910 mm specimen (G. Leighton). 
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]. 
CommentNomenclature: PETERS’ name is a junior homonym of Psammophis furcatus (BIANCONI 1859) = Psammophis punctulatus DUMÉRIL & BIBRON 1854.

Taxonomy: Psammophis leightoni trinasalis WERNER 1902 and Psammophis leightoni namibensis BROADLEY 1975 have been elevated to full species status.

Distribution: see map in BROADLEY 2002: 89 (Fig. 3). 
  • 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.
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
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