30 Nov 2014 - 12:45


Happy SCALY SUNDAY!! Most people fear snakes, but it is important to remember that snakes are a key component of natural ecosystems. Common in many types of habitat, they affect the "balance of nature" as both predators and prey. From an ecological point of view, snakes help to control rodent populations. Snakes and their eggs are in turn eaten by fish, amphibians, other snakes, birds and predatory mammals. Snakes are an important part of the food web. We must help to protect them rather than harm them. The best policy when it comes to snakes is to just leave them alone and in peace. They are not out to get you!

“In the end we will conserve only what we love. We will love only what we understand. We will understand only what we are taught.”

The species in the spotlight today is the Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana) - this beautiful snake has a widespread distribution throughout southern Africa and occurs in nearly every habitat, although its preferred habitat is grassland. The photo shown here, taken in Limpopo Province, is from the ReptileMAP database (view here: ). Mole Snakes prey on golden moles (hence the name), rats, mice and gerbils. For this reason, they are considered useful for the natural control of problem rodents. Juveniles, however, are largely restricted to preying on lizards.

Mole Snakes are uniform brown, grey or black in colour (juveniles have zigzag or mottled markings) and they have round pupils. They can grow to an average length of 1.4 m but may reach 2 m in length, particularly in the Cape. The Mole Snake gives birth to live young, between 25 and 50 young, in late summer. This species of snake is are non-venomous and not dangerous to man but they can inflict a painful bite, so it's best to just leave them be.