You are here » home advanced search search results Psammophis phillipsii

Psammophis phillipsii (HALLOWELL, 1844)

Can you confirm these amateur observations of Psammophis phillipsii?

Add your own observation of
Psammophis phillipsii »

Find more photos by Google images search: Google images

Higher TaxaPsammophiidae, Colubroidea, Caenophidia, Alethinophidia, Serpentes, Squamata (snakes)
Common NamesE: Phillips’ Whip Snake, Olive Grass Racer, Phillips’ Sand Snake
F: Psammophis de Phillips
G: Phillips-Sandrennnatter 
SynonymColuber phillipsii HALLOWELL 1844: 169
Psammophis Phillipsi — HALLOWELL 1854: 100
Psammophis irregularis FISCHER 1856: 92
Psammophis Phillipsi — HALLOWELL 1857: 69
Psammophis notosticta MATSCHIE 1893: 212 (Togo) (not Peters)
Psammophis regularis STERNFELD 1908 (fide HUGHES 2004)
Psammophis sibilans — SCHMIDT 1923: 111 (fide BROADLEY 1977)
Psammophis sibilans phillipsii — LOVERIDGE 1940
Psammophis sibilans phillipsii — BRISCOE 1949
Psammophis phillipsi — BROADLEY 1977
Psammophis phillipsi — BOYCOTT 1992
Psammophis phillipsi — AUERBACH 1987: 170
Psammophis phillipsii — BROADLEY 1998
Psammophis cf. phillipsi — PAUWELS et al. 2004
Psammophis cf. phillipsi — BÖHME et al. 2011: 59
Psammophis philippsii — HERRMANN & BRANCH 2013 (in error)
Psammophis philllipsi — WALLACH et al. 2014: 578
Psammophis cf. phillipsii — PAUWELS et al. 2019
Psammophis phillipsi — TRAPE et al. 2019: 71 
DistributionGambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, southern Mali, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, elevation 0-1200 m, Tanzania (iNaturalist), Republic of South Sudan (RSS)

Type locality: Liberia.

irregularis: Type locality: Peki, Ghana  
TypesLectotype: ANSP 5112, female (designated by BROADLEY 1977: 24)
Syntypes: ZMB 9993 (2 specimens) [Psammophis sibilans var. tettensis]
Holotype: lost fide to Hughes & Wade 2004 [irregularis] 
DiagnosisDescription. (180 specimens examined) Nostril pierced between 2 (rarely 3) nasals; preocular 1, usually widely separated from frontal; postoculars 2; temporals usually2+2 or 2+3; supralabials 8 (very rarely 7), the 4th & 5th entering orbit; infralabials usually 10 (rarely 9 or 11), the first 4 (very rarely 5) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales in 17-17-13 rows; ventrals 161–183; cloacal usually entire (9% divided); subcaudals 89–115. Brandstätter (1995: Fig. 56–57) illustrated photomicrographs of a mid-dorsal scale of SMF 20067 from Ghana.
Dorsum olive brown, uniform in most specimens (Fig. 20), rarely with black-edged mid-dorsal scales forming black lines (Fig. 21), or with irregularly scattered black scales on the body anteriorly (Fig. 6). Top of head usually uniform, but reticulations may be present, including a double pale line on the frontal (Fig. 6). Each labial and sublingual is usually adorned with a dark spot. Venter yellow or white, uniform or with lateral rows of black spots or short streaks or irregular black speckling (Trape et al. 2019: 72). 
CommentSynonymy: partly after Trape et al. 2019, who present a more extensive chresonymy.

Distribution: fide Trape et al. 2019: 73.

Similar species: P. sibilans, P. mossambicus. Closely related to P. sibilans and both may represent the same species. In the light of the recent revision by Trape et al. (2019), the two individuals of ‘Psammophis phillipsii’ shown on Figs. 11.36 and 11.37 in Chippaux & Jackson 2019 should be re-identified as P. mossambicus fide Pauwels & Brecko 2020.

Subspecies: Psammophis sibilans var. mossambica PETERS 1882: 122 and Psammophis phillipsi occidentalis have been elevated to full species status.

Nigerian specimens are consistent with descriptions of P. phillipsi by Hallowell (1844), Villiers (1975), Hughes and Barry (1969), and Broadley (1977) in all features (e.g., plain colouration, shape of the snout) except for the presence of a divided cloacal scale in several specimens (see Hughes, 1999; Hughes and Wade, 2004). Although the condition of the cloacal scale has been considered a diagnostic feature between phillipsi (cloacal scale entire) and sibilans (or rukwae, following Brandstätter, 1995; cloacal scale divided; see also Chippaux, 1999), some authors named all specimens (including those with divided cloacal scale) as ‘phillipsi’ (e.g., Akani et al., 2002a, 2002b, 2003).

Hughes (1999) found that cloacal-scale-entire (CSE) specimens dominate in his collections of phillipsi from West Africa (Liberia to Ghana), and cloacal-scale-divided (CSD) specimens dominate in Nigeria, Cameroon, and central African forests. He also concluded that “the West African, unpatterned specimens which Luiselli et al. have in the past identified as “P. phillipsi” (e.g. Hughes and Barry, 1968) comprises two forms which are likely to be distinct species: P. phillipsi is the name for the specimens from forest clearings with CSE condition; and those from savannah and sympatric with “P. sibilans”, are what Brandstätter treats as a new subspecies (“forest margin”)”, with mostly a CSD condition.

NCBI taxon ID: 382752 [occidentalis] 
EtymologyNamed after John S. Phillips, Esq. 
  • Auerbach, R.D. 1987. The Amphibians and Reptiles of Botswana. Mokwepa Consultants, Botswana, 295 pp.
  • Barnett, Linda K. 2001. The herpetofauna of Abuko Nature Reserve, the Gambia. Herpetological Bulletin (77): 5-1 - get paper here
  • Barnett, Linda K. & Emms, Craig 2005. Common reptiles of The Gambia. Rare Repro, Hailsham, East Sussex, 24 pp.
  • Barts, M. & W. D. Haacke 1997. Zur Reptilienfauna der Tsodilo - Berge und angrenzender Gebiete in NW - Botswana Teil II: Sauria II; Serpents. Sauria 19 (4): 15-21 - get paper here
  • Beolens, Bo; Michael Watkins, and Michael Grayson 2011. The Eponym Dictionary of Reptiles. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, USA - get paper here
  • Böhme, Wolfgang, Mark-Oliver Rödel, Christian Brede & Philipp Wagner 2011. The reptiles (Testudines, Squamata, Crocodylia) of the forested southeast of the Republic Guinea (Guinée forestière), with a country-wide checklist. Bonn zoological Bulletin 60 (1): 35-61 - get paper here
  • Boycott, R.C. 1992. An Annotated Checklist of the Amphibians and Reptiles of Swaziland. The Conservation Trust of Swaziland - get paper here
  • Briscoe, M.S. 1949. Notes on Snakes Collected in Liberia. Copeia 1949 (1): 16-18 - 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. & HOWELL, K. M. 1991. A check list of the reptiles of Tanzania, with synoptic keys. Syntarsus 1: 1—70
  • Broadley, D.G. 1977. A review of the genus Psammophis in southern Africa (Serpentes: Colubridae). Arnoldia 8 (12): 1-29
  • Broadley, D.G. 1991. The Herpetofauna of Northern Mwinilunga Distr., Northw. Zambia. Arnoldia Zimbabwe 9 (37): 519-538
  • Broadley, D.G. 1994. A collection of snakes from eastern Sudan, with the description of a new species of Telescopus Wagler, 1830 (Reptilia: Ophidia). Journal of African Zoology 108 (2): 201-208.
  • 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.
  • Chifundera, K. 1990. Snakes of Zaire and their bites. Afr. Stud. Monogr. (Kyoto) 10(3): 137-157.
  • 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
  • Chirio, L. & Lebreton, M. 2007. Atlas des reptiles du Cameroun. MNHN, IRD, Paris 688 pp.
  • Cimatti, E. 2006. African Jewels: Tanzania on foot. Reptilia (GB) (46): 65-70 - get paper here
  • Haan, Cornelius C. de; Alexandre Cluchier 2006. Chemical marking behaviour in the psammophiine snakes Malpolon monspessulanus and Psammophis phillipsi. Herpetologia Bonnensis II: 211-212
  • Hallowell, E. 1844. Description of new species of African reptiles. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 1844: 169-172 - get paper here
  • Hallowell,E. 1854. Remarks on the geographical distribution of reptiles, with descriptions of several species supposed to be new, and corrections of former papers. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philad. 1854: 98-105 - get paper here
  • Hallowell,E. 1857. Notes of a collection of reptiles from the Gaboon country, West Africa, recently presented to the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, by Dr. Herny A. Ford. Proc. Acad. Nat. Sci. Philadelphia 9: 48-72 - get paper here
  • 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
  • Hoogmoed, M.S. 1979. Herpetologische waarnemingen in Ghana [part 1 - introduction]. Lacerta 37 (10-11): 164-168 - get paper here
  • Hoogmoed, M.S. 1980. Herpetologische waarnemingen in Ghana [part 7]. Lacerta 38 (9): 88-95 - get paper here
  • Hörold, Ralf & Heidrun 2018. Die Königspythons daheim b(g)esucht, Teil 2. Ophidia 12 (1): 18-25
  • Hughes, B. 1999. Critical review of a revision of Psammophis (Linnaeus 1758) (Serpentes, Reptilia) by Frank Brandstätter. African Journal of Herpetology 48 (1-2): 63-70 - get paper here
  • Hughes, B. 2013. Snakes of Bénin, West Africa. Bull. Soc. Herp. France 144: 101-159
  • Hughes, Barry and Eduardo Wade 2004. Is Psammophis sibilans occidentalis Werner, 1919 a junior synonym of P. phillipsi (Hallowell, 1844)? Herpetozoa 16 (3/4):127-132 - get paper here
  • Jackson, Kate 2008. MEAN AND LOWLY THINGS - Snakes, Science, and Survival in the Congo. Harvard University Press, 336 pp. - get paper here
  • Jackson, Kate; Ange-Ghislain Zassi-Boulou, Lis-Bethy Mavoungou, and Serge Pangou 2007. Amphibians and Reptiles of the LacTélé Community Reserve, Likouala Region, Republic of Congo (Brazzaville). Herp. Cons. Biol. 2 (2): 75-86 - get paper here
  • JACOBSEN, N.H.G. 2009. A contribution to the herpetofauna of the Passendro Area, Central African Republic. African Herp News (47): 2-20 - get paper here
  • Leaché, Adam D.; Mark-Oliver Rödel, Charles W. Linkem, Raul E. Diaz, Annika Hillers, and Matthew K. Fujita 2006. Biodiversity in a forest island: reptiles and amphibians of the Togo Hills, Kyabobo National Park, Ghana. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 4 (1): 22-45 - get paper here
  • Loveridge, A. 1938. On a collection of reptiles and amphibians from Liberia. Proc. New England Zool. Club 17: 49-74 - get paper here
  • Luiselli, Luca; Godfrey C. Akani; Francesco M. Angelici; Edem A. Eniang; Linda Ude; Edoardo Politano 2004. Local distribution, habitat use, and diet of two supposed 'species' of the Psammophis 'phillipsi' complex (Serpentes: Colubridae), sympatric in southern Nigeria. Amphibia-Reptilia 25 (4): 415-423 - get paper here
  • Padial, J. M. 2006. COMMENTED DISTRIBUTIONAL LIST OF THE REPTILES OF MAURITANIA (WEST AFRICA). Graellsia, 62(2): 159-178 - get paper here
  • Pauwels OSG, Morelle S, Albert J-L, Carlino P, Rahola N, Trape J-F. 2019. New reptile records from Lékédi Park and Haut-Ogooué Province, southeastern Gabon. Amphibian & Reptile Conservation 13 (1) [General Section]: 143–161 (e174) - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O. S. G. B. Le Garff, I. Ineich, P. Carlino, I. Melcore, L. Boundenga, C. Vigna, T. Stévart, K. Jeffery, C. Orbell, J.-B. Squarcini, J. P. Vande weghe and L. J. T. White 2016. Miscellanea Herpetologica Gabonica V & VI. Bull. Chicago Herp. Soc. 51: 177 - get paper here
  • PAUWELS, O. S. G., AND J. BRECKO 2020. Book Review: Snakes of Central and Western Africa. Herpetological Review 51: 161-164.
  • Pauwels, O.S.G. & Vande Weghe, J.P. 2008. Les reptiles du Gabon. Smithsonian Institution, Washington: 272 pp. - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; David, P. 2008. Miscellanea Herpetologica Gabonica II. Hamadryad 32 (1): 19 – 24 - get paper here
  • Pauwels, O.S.G.; William R. Branch and Marius Burger 2004. REPTILES OF LOANGO NATIONAL PARK, OGOOUÉ-MARITIME PROVINCE, SOUTH-WESTERN GABON. Hamadryad 29 (1): 115 – 127 - get paper here
  • PAUWELS, OLIVIER; LAURENT CHIRIO & WOUTER DEKONINCK. 2022. Diet records for snakes from Guinea, West Africa. Bulletin of the Chicago Herpetological Society 57(6): 117–123. - get paper here
  • Peters,W. 1882. Naturwissenschaftliche Reise nach Mossambique auf Befehl seiner Majestät es Königs Friedrich Wilhelm IV. in den Jahren 1842 bis 1848 ausgefeführt von Wilhelm C. Peters. Zoologie III. Amphibien. Berlin (Reimer), 191pp.
  • Phelps, Tony 2002. A study of the Black Mamba (Dendroaspis polylepis) in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, with particular reference to long-term-refugia. Herpetological Bulletin (80): 7-19 - get paper here
  • Razzetti, E. & Msuya, C.A. 2002. Field guide to the amphibians and reptiles of Arusha National Park (Tanzania). Publ. Ed. Negri Istituto, Oikos, Varese, 84 pp.
  • Segniagbeto GLazcano. H., Trape J. F., David P., Ohler A., Dubois A. & Glitho I. A. 2011. The snake fauna of Togo: systematics, distribution and biogeography, with remarks on selected taxonomic problems. Zoosystema 33 (3): 325-360. DOI: 10.5252/z2011n3a4 - get paper here
  • Senter, P. J., & Chippaux, J. P. 2022. Biogeography of snakes in Liberia: Review and synthesis of current knowledge. Ghana Journal of Science, 63(1), 29-62 - get paper here
  • Sternfeld,R. 1908. Die Schlangenfauna von Kamerun. Mitt. zool. Mus. Berlin 3 (4): 397-432 - get paper here
  • Taylor, Edward H.;Weyer, Dora 1958. Report on a collection of amphibians and reptiles from Harbel, Republic of Liberia. Univ. Kansas Sci. Bull. 38 (14): 1191-1229 - get paper here
  • Trape, J.-F. & Mané, Y. 2006. Guide des serpents d’Afrique occidentale. Savane et désert. [Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger]. IRD Editions, Paris, 226 pp. - get paper here
  • Trape, J.F. & R. ROUX-ESTÈVE 1995. Les serpents du Congo: liste commentée et clé de détermination. Journal of African Zoology 109 (1): 31-50
  • TRAPE, JEAN-FRANÇOIS & CELLOU BALDÉ 2014. A checklist of the snake fauna of Guinea, with taxonomic changes in the genera Philothamnus and Dipsadoboa (Colubridae) and a comparison with the snake fauna of some other West African countries. Zootaxa 3900 (3): 301–338 - get paper here
  • Trape, Jean-François & Youssouph Mané 2017. The snakes of Mali. Bonn zoological Bulletin 66 (2): 107–133 - get paper here
  • Trape, Jean-François; Pierre-André Crochet, Donald G. Broadley, Patricia Sourouille, Youssouph Mané, Marius Burger, Wolfgang Böhme, Mostafa Saleh, Anna Karan, Benedetto Lanza & Oleg Mediannikov 2019. On the Psammophis sibilans group (Serpentes, Lamprophiidae, Psammophiinae) north of 12°S, with the description of a new species from West Africa. Bonn zoological Bulletin 68 (1): 61–91 - get paper here
  • Ullenbruch, K.; Grell, O.; Böhme, W. 2010. Reptiles from southern Benin, West Africa, with the description of a new Hemidactylus (Gekkonidae), and a country-wide checklist. Bonn Zool. Bull. 57 (1): 31-54 - get paper here
  • Wagner, Philipp; Jörn Köhler; Andreas Schmitz; Wolfgang Böhme 2008. The biogeographical assignment of a west Kenyan rain forest remnant: further evidence from analysis of its reptile fauna. Journal of Biogeography 35: 1349–1361 - 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.
  • Zassi-Boulou, Ange Ghislain; Joseph Goma Tchimbakala, Lise Bethy Mavoungou, and Kate Jackson 2020. A Survey of Snakes in the Patte d’Oie Forest Reserve (Brazzaville, Republic of Congo): an Urban Snake Community in Central Africa. Herpetological Conservation and Biology, 15 (1): - get paper here
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