Added 23 January 2011.

A Look at the Family Colubridae


Western Keeled Snake


A monotypic genus, sometimes kept in captivity: see article in Bibliography. The name derives from the shape and scalation of the head, which is similar to that of a true python. Different authorities place this genus in different subfamilies of the Colubridae (see eg the sources in the Bibliography). Pythonodipsas is rear-fanged. Apart from its python-like head it also somewhat resembles the horned adder, Bitis caudalis, this mimicry bringing a mixed blessing as for this reason it may be killed on sight by humans.

The species adapts well to captivity [Branch] but the latter author suggests feeding sparingly. Diet might be a problem as both sexes take small lizards, especially geckos and skinks: however rodents are also taken, especially by the female.

Scientific Name Common Name Distribution Size Notes
P. carinatus Western Keeled Snake Southern Africa (NW & W/C Namibia, SW Angola; poss. SW Zambia) 60cm (m), 85cm (f) SVL Found in open and dry habitat, but also around semipermanent pools and in deserted buildings. Scalation details: 9-10 supralabials; 1 preocular, 3 postoculars; 3-4 suboculars; 5 loreals; 11-14 infralabials; 21 rows at midbody, smooth or faintly keeled; 185-188 ventrals in males, 191-208 in females; 41-49 (female) or 52-55 (male) undivided subcaudals; anal is undivided; head scales small and greatly fragmented. Teeth: 13 maxillary, of which 3rd to 6th are the largest; single large grooved palatine fang behind space after maxillary teeth. Other: head flat, distinct from neck; nostrils located on top of snout, directed upwards; body cylindrical; tail longish. Coloration: dorsally sandy, pale olive or grey; double row of dark-edged brown to grey-brown blotches that may form zizag pattern or crossbars; flanks have smaller, less conspicuous bars; darker longitudinal line along mouth to side of neck; venter and throat uniform white, sometimes spotted ventrolaterally. Reproduction details: oviparous, but otherwise few if any details available [SOURCES: see Bibliography]


"Pythonodipsas carinata, Western Keeled Snake", Emanuele Cimatti, Reptilia 32.

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