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Duberria lutrix
SlugeaterHead
Physical description
Binomial nameElseya albagula
HabitatFreshwater
LifespanUnknown
Average Size30-40 cm
Dietmolluscivore
Conservational Status
IUCN statusIUCN 3.1
Scientific classification
KingdomAnimalia
PhylumChordata
ClassReptilia
OrderSquamata
SuborderSerpentes
FamilyColubridae
GenusDuberria
SpeciesD. lutrix
Distribution
Distribution of speciesSouthern Africa

Duberria lutrix, or the common slug-eater, is a small, ovoviviparous[1], molluscivorous, non-venomous snake (adult length approx. 30-40 cm).[2]

RangeEdit

The species contains a number of subspecies, including D. lutrix lutrix and Duberria lutrix rhodesiana, which occurs in Zimbabwe and Mozambique, and is found throughout most of Sub-Saharan Africa.

DietEdit

SlugeaterScale

A slugeater shown next to bricks for scale

As the name implies, the slug-eater is a specialised predator, and feeds on snails and slugs, mostly finding its prey through chemoreception, using its tongue. It swallows its prey quickly before too much defensive mucus is produced, extracting snails from their shells through the shell opening, or by smashing the shell against a rock while grasping the soft body in its jaws.[3]

BreedingEdit

The slug-eater gives birth to litters of 3-12 young.[4][5]

CaptivityEdit

The snake is a popular pet, feeds and breeds readily and because of the nature of its prey item, it is easy to keep.

DefenseEdit

When alarmed, the snake secretes a noxious substance from glands near the base of the tail and rolls up into a defensive spiral with the head in the middle, leading to the Afrikaans common name tabakrolletjie ("tobacco roll").

The slug-eater's colour varies, but it typically has an olive green to brown or russet back, grey flanks, a yellowish or cream belly, and a more or less complete vertebral stripe.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Roland Bauchot (Ed.) 2006. Snakes: A Natural History. Sterling
  2. Carruthers, Vincent. 2005. The Wildlife of Southern Africa: A Field Guide to the Animal and Plants of the Region. Struik Publishers. Cape Town. pp92
  3. G. M. Barker. 2004. Natural enemies of terrestrial molluscs. CABI Pub. Wallingford, Oxon, UK.
  4. Walter Rose. 1950. The Reptiles and Amphibians of Southern Africa. Maskew Miller. Cape Town.
  5. Branch, Bill. 1988. Bill Branch's field guide to the snakes and other reptiles of southern Africa. Struik. Cape Town.

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