Scientific classification

Lamprophis is a genus of colubrid snakes commonly referred to as African house snakes. They are small, non-venomous snakes. They exhibit a wide variety of pattern variation, and may be spotted, striped, or solid colored. House snakes are sexually dimorphic, the females grow significantly larger, to approximately 120 cm in some species, some specimens have been recorded over 150 cm, the males only grow to approximately 75 cm. Albino variants of Lamprophis aurora have been found.

Species Edit

There are, as of 2010 only 7 recognized species in the genus Lamprophis[1]:

Geographic range Edit

House snakes are found throughout all of sub-Saharan Africa in a wide variety of habitats, some species are well adapted to living in underground burrows. They are named "house" snakes as they are frequently found around human dwellings, feeding on the rodents that congregate around human waste. They are extremely adaptable snakes, which are found in scrubland, woodland, savannah, and montane regions.

Behaviour and diet Edit

Wild House Snakes are often very nervous, but are not prone to biting. Their first defensive reaction is to flee. They are frequently found in & around human dwellings, where they are avid consumers of rodents, small lizards and even birds. House snakes are prolific breeders and lay clutches averaging 8-12 eggs that hatch after around two months of incubation. Hatchlings are typically around 20 cm long.

In captivity Edit

African house snakes are common in the exotic pet trade, the primary species available is L. capensis, others are harder to come by. They are easy to care for and breed readily. Their popularity has declined in recent years due to more interestingly colored snakes, like the corn snake. Despite this, captive breeding of house snakes for color and pattern continues. Few are exported from Africa due to their low market value and the ease of breeding them in captivity. They can live up to 20 years with proper care. Males are smaller than females and seldom grow longer than 2½ feet. Females can attain lengths of 3½ feet and specimens from the eastern region of Southern Africa (KwaZulu-Natal) are reported to reach lengths of 5 feet or more. These snakes are nocturnal. The female lays one clutch of 9 to 16 eggs in early spring, they are known to store sperm and lay up to 6 clutches per annum in captivity but it rarely happens in nature. Hatchlings are 5 to 7 inches upon hatching.

Food Edit

The main diet consists of rodents, in captivity smaller snakes take pinkie mice, in the wild they more commonly prey on geckos until they are powerful enough to constrict mice. Large females are known to occasionally eat weaner rats. Adult snakes get fed weekly. Hatchlings may eat small lizards such as skinks, geckos and newborn mice. In captivity they can successfully be fed on gecko tails. Larger specimens are also known to take lizards, and in rare cases they will catch small bats. House snakes should be fed alone, their often violent feeding response may cause cannibalism.

Captive Snakes Edit

Feed snakes in a different tank and watch over them if offered live rodents as the snakes can be injured by them. The vivarium in which they are kept in should be of a decent size for the snake to be able to move around freely without problems. Paper towels are okay as well as Aspen shavings for the substrate of the tank. The humidity in the tank should be kept at a higher percentage when the snakes start to shed. They should have objects inside the tank that help them hide or such things as branches for them to climb upon. Lighting is an optional extra, if provided with added lighting, they should not have more than 12 hrs day period and 12 hours night period - keeping the snakes in a room that is naturally lit with sunlight would suffice. They should have a large bowl of water so that they can drink and bathe - females not provided with an egg laying chamber when gravid may use this to lay their eggs. The water should be changed daily.

External links Edit

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  1. Kelly, C.M.R., et al. Molecular systematics of the African snake family Lamprophiidae, Fitzinger, 1843 (Serpentes: Elapoidea), with particular focus on the genera Lamprophis, Fitzinger 1843 and Mehelya, Csiki 1903. Mol. Phylogenet. Evol. (2010), Template:Doi
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