African House Snake

African house snakes (Lamprophis fulginosus) are small nocturnal hunters that emerge from their refuges under rocks and logs to wander the leaf litter in search of prey. Although snakes are generally feared in almost every country I’ve visited, many species are harmless to humans and can be both beneficial as well as a pleasure to interact with. House snakes, for example, are common occupants of human dwellings, and they are helpful in consuming rodents that could be vectors of disease. This little snake is a bit too young to even feed on small mice, though in a few months it will be able to transition into having more of a mammalian diet. Juvenile house snakes instead feed mostly on reptiles that are small enough to digest, such as skinks and geckos.

House snakes are variable in color, ranging from dark brown to dull brown to light orange. Their splotched lateral patterning is often almost unnoticeable, though if you look closely you can pick out their leopard spots. This individual was particularly striking to me because of its unusual color. Initially I had assumed it was just brown, but when looked at closely its subtle deep forest green became very evident. The body form and color pattern of this species somewhat reminds me of juvenile Australian pygmy pythons in the genus Antaresia. As I was wrapped up in the excitement of finding this snake, I thought of my first children’s python (Antaresia childreni), one of a very similar size and demeanor as this cute house snake.

Photographed after capture [5]

Awkward photo of a house snake flipped under a piece of loose bark

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