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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: Colubridae
Subfamily: Colubrinae
Genus: Psammophis
Fitzinger, 1826

34, see text.

Psammophis is a genus of colubrid snakes currently comprising 34 species 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 German herpetologist Heinrich Boie in 1826, a compound of the Hellenistic Greek ψαμμο, "sand" + Classical Greek ὄϕις, "snake", thus sand-snake.[3]


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 posteriorteeth are small. The head is elongated and distinct from the neck, with an angular canthus rostralis. The eyes are rather large, with round pupils. Its body is elongated and cylindrical with smooth scales in 15 or 17 rows, with apical pits. Ventral scales are rounded or obtusely angulated laterally, and the tail is long with the subcaudals in two rows.

Geographic range[edit]

Thirty-four species of Psammophis are known, from Africa and southern Asia.[4]


Psammophis species are chiefly sand-snakes, but they are also found on low bushes.[5]


Species in the genus Psammophis feed principally on lizards.[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 UETZ P. 2012. (editor). The Reptile Database. http://www.reptile-
  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. ^
  5. ^ a b 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).

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).