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the web of life in southern Africa

Dasypeltis medici (East African egg-eater)

Oos-Afrika-eiervreter [Afrikaans]

 Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Colubridae > Subfamily: Colubrinae > Genus: Dasypeltis


The East African Egg-eater can be identified by its Rhombic (diamond shaped) markings, 1 or more V-shaped markings on the neck, its keeled scales and its strictly nocturnal lifestyle. This snake averages 60 cm in length but may reach up to 90 cm.

Distribution and habitat

Native distribution includes Somalia, southern Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, and four localised populations in the northeastern regions of southern Africa. These four populations include one in the North East corner of KwaZulu-Natal, two populations in Mozambique and a fourth population on the Zimbabwe/Mozambique border. Favoured habitat is lowland forest and moist savanna.


Feeds exclusively on bird eggs which are crushed by bony vertebral projections in the neck area.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes and birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles).


Oviparous (egg laying), lays between 6 and 28 eggs in summer.


The average lifespan of this snake is unknown.

Medical importance

Non-venomous and not dangerous to people.



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.