Species group: Egg Eating Snakes
Other common names: Common Egg Eater, Rhombic Egg Eating Snake
Scientific name: Dasypeltis scabra
The African Egg Eating Snake is one of Africa’s most widespread snakes, but, being nocturnal, it remains largely unseen. It is found throughout the entire eastern half of the African Continent, from Egypt to South Africa, and also occurs in Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Ten related species inhabit the rest of Africa. One of these, the East African Egg Eating Snake (D. medici medici) also appears in the pet trade. The African Egg Eating Snake frequents wooded grasslands, thorn scrub, open woodlands, and parks. It usually hunts above-ground, and often shelters in bird nests after feeding.
Appearance / health:
As an adaptation to an egg-only diet, the African Egg Eater is virtually toothless. However, it closely mimics the venomous Saw Scaled Viper in coloration and behavior, and is thus well-protected. In areas where the viper does not occur, African Egg Eating Snakes are not left defenseless – amazingly, those populations resemble the venomous Night Adder!
The African Egg Eater averages a 24-30 inches in length, but may reach 42 inches, and is slender in build. It is clad in various shades of brown grey or tan, usually with an attractive pink or reddish hue. A chain-like pattern of varying black marks runs along the back. The scales are keeled (raised a bit), and when rubbed together produce an imitation of the Saw Scaled Viper’s warning.
Behavior / temperament:
African Egg Eaters tend to be high-strung, and do not take well to handling. They may calm down in time, but are best considered as animals to observe rather than handle.
African Egg Eaters can be kept in an aquarium of 15-20 gallons in size. Most prefer to shelter below the substrate, so cypress mulch is preferable to newspapers as a substrate. A cave or other hide-away and stout climbing branches should also be provided. The tank’s screen lid must be secured by cage clips. Ambient temperature: 75-82 F; Basking temperature: 86-88 F. As this snake is nocturnal, red or black reptile night bulbs are ideal.
Fecal material should be removed regularly. The terrarium should be misted daily and thoroughly cleaned each 2-4 weeks. Most are wild-caught, so newly-acquired pets should be examined by a veterinarian.
Feeding is the most challenging aspect of African Egg Eater care. The natural diet is comprised entirely of bird eggs (as might be expected!). Wild-caught individuals often refuse commercially-available eggs. Thirty elongated projections of the vertebrae hold, pierce and crack the shell, which is then regurgitated. Coturnix quail eggs, available as a “specialty item” in many supermarkets, are a good size for most individuals. The eggs of button quail, ring-necked doves, parakeets and zebra finches may also be offered. As these birds often over-produce in captivity, their eggs may be available from pet stores or breeders. Rubbing the egg-shell on bird feathers or smearing it with yolk may encourage feeding. A water bowl should be available.
As captive breeding is rare, pet owners have a great opportunity to discover important new information; be sure to share what you learn! A short cooling off period and reduced light cycle may encourage breeding. Females produce up to 18 eggs, and the hatchlings average 7-10 inches in length. In contrast to most snakes, the eggs are deposited in several locations, not together.
Written by Frank Indiviglio
interesting snake pet, interesting snake
feeding, quality calcium supplement, right size eggs
dove eggs, Chinese quail
Common Egg-eater - Dasypeltis scabra
Common Egg-eater - Dasypeltis scabra are awesome snakes to keep as pets. They are a non venomous species native to Southern and central Africa and only eat birds egg. They come in an range of colors from dark brown to a light red and orange color phase depending on the area they come from. They are very hardy snakes and can go without food for extended periods of time. They start to go of food completely about a month before winter starts and then will only accept food again until spring. They normally start eating when the first rains arrive. They are easy to feed if you can find them the correct size eggs and need very little in terms of maintenance, making them very easy snakes to keep if you have a little bit of experience. These make an excellent addition to an already existing collection but I wouldn't recommend it as a "first time" snake for three simple reasons. The first problem that you probably encounter is not being able to find it enough of the right size eggs. Secondly they refuse to eat during the winter months so it is very important to feed them enough food during summer. Thirdly if you plan to breed them you have to provide them with good quality calcium supplement as they are well-known for having egg-binding problems which can make it a bit difficult for a first time keeper. They do mock strike and try to imitate other vipers from the region but they do not even process teeth and it is all an act to try and scare of a potential threat. This might be intimidating at first but it is nothing to be scared off.
. If you are already well established in the reptile world and would like to try keep and breed something a bit different then this is the snake for you and they are extremely rewarding to keep if you take good care of them..
From RobWedderburn Sep 25 2015 4:51PM