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the web of life in southern Africa

Dasypeltis scabra (Common egg-eater, Rhombic egg-eater)

Gewone eiervreter [Afrikaans]; Ralegonyane [Tswana]

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

Dasypeltis scabra (Common Egg-eater, Rhombic Egg-eater), Limpopo, South Africa. [G. Tomsett , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Dasypeltis scabra (Common Egg-eater, Rhombic Egg-eater), Gauteng [A. Coetzer , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


Can be identified by its rhombic (diamond shaped) markings, V-shaped markings on the neck, a black tongue, a black mouth and its strictly nocturnal lifestyle. This snake has an average length of 0.75 m but may reach just under 1.2 meters in length.

Distribution and habitat

This Egg-eater species is distributed throughout Southern Africa and is found in any habitat except desert and forest areas.


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

Predators, parasites and disease

This snake species is fed on by other snakes and birds of prey (including secretary birds and snake eagles).


Oviparous (lays eggs), lays between 6 and 25 eggs in summer and has been to produce more than one clutch in captivity.


The average lifespan of this snake is unknown.

Medical importance

Non-venomous and not dangerous to man.



  • 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.