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Psammophis subtaeniatus2.jpg
Psammophis subtaeniatus, Limpopo, South Africa
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Reptilia
Order: Squamata
Suborder: Serpentes
Family: Lamprophiidae
Subfamily: Psammophiinae
Genus: Psammophis
Fitzinger, 1826

34, see text.

Psammophis is a genus of snakes in the family Lamprophiidae. The genus comprises 34 species, which are found in Africa and Asia.[1] Psammophis are diurnal and prey on lizards and rodents which they actively hunt. All species in the genus are venomous, and the venom is considered mild and not dangerous to humans.[2]


The generic name Psammophis was coined by the Austrian herpetologist Leopold Fitzinger in 1826, a compound of the Hellenistic Greek ψαμμο, "sand" + Classical Greek ὄϕις, "snake", thus sand-snake.[3]


In the genus Psammophis the maxillary teeth are 10 to 13 in number, with one or two in the middle much enlarged and fang-like, preceded and followed by an interspace; the two posterior teeth are grooved. The anterior mandibular teeth are long, and the posterior teeth are small. The head is elongated and distinct from the neck, with an angular canthus rostralis. The eye is rather large, with a round pupil. The body is elongated and cylindrical with smooth dorsal scales in 15 or 17 rows at midbody, with apical pits. The ventral scales are rounded or obtusely angulate laterally, and the tail is long with the subcaudals in two rows.[4]

Geographic range[edit]

Thirty-four species of Psammophis are known, from Africa and southern Asia.[1]


Psammophis species are chiefly sand-snakes, but they are also found on low bushes.[4]


Species in the genus Psammophis feed principally on lizards.[4]


All species in the genus Psammophis are oviparous.[5]


The following 34 species are recognized as being valid.[1]

Nota bene: A binomial authority in parentheses indicates that the species was originally described in a genus other than Psammophis.


  1. ^ a b c Genus Psammophis at The Reptile Database.
  2. ^ Bates MF, Branch WR, Bauer AM, Burger M, Marais J, Alexander GJ, De Villiers MS. (editors) (2014). Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  3. ^ Oxford English Dictionary, 3rd edition, s.v.
  4. ^ a b c Boulenger GA (1890). The Fauna of British India, Including Ceylon and Burma. Reptilia and Batrachia. London: Secretary of State for India in Council. (Taylor and Francis, printers). xviii + 541 pp. (Genus Psammophis, p. 365, Figure 107).
  5. ^ Branch, Bill (2004). Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Third Revised edition, Second impression. Sanibel Island, Florida: Ralph Curtis Books. 399 pp. ISBN 0-88359-042-5. (Genus Psammophis, p. 89).

Further reading[edit]

  • Fitzinger LI (1826). Neue Classification der Reptilien nach ihre natürlichen Verwandtschaften. Nebst einer Verwandtshafts-tafel und einem Verzeichnisse der Reptilien-Sammlung des K.K. zoologischen Museum's zu Wien. Vienna: J.G. Heubner. five unnumbered + 67 pp. + one plate. (Psammophis, new genus, p. 29). (in German and Latin).