Species group: Rear-fanged Snakes
Other common names: Herald Snake, Black Templed Cat Snake, Savanna White-Lipped Snake
Scientific name: Crotaphopeltis hotamboeia
Attractive, but also a high strung, picky-feeder, Red-lipped Snakes are best considered as suitable for display in zoos rather than private collections. A professional herpetologist should be consulted before one acquires a Rear-Fanged Snake of any species. While fatalities have not been reported, severe reactions to bites have occurred, and the possibility of a serious allergic reaction must be considered.
The Red-lipped Snake is found in Southern Africa, from Mozambique and Botswana to South Africa, where it is at home in swamps, flooded savannas, and wet forest margins.
Appearance / health:
The Red-lipped Snake averages 70-100 cm (27-39 in) in length. It has a black head and is a white-speckled gray or olive in color. The area above the mouth is usually red in color, but may be pink or white in some populations.
This secretive snake is not often seen in private collections; zoo specimens have reached age 10+. Fungal skin infections are common in overly-damp exhibits.
Behavior / temperament:
Red-lipped Snakes vary in temperament, with most being easily stressed. As with all Rear-Fanged Snakes, they should not be handled.
An average adult can be kept in a 30-55 gallon aquarium. Cypress mulch, eucalyptus bark and similar materials are preferable to newspapers as substrates. A large water bowl, filled to a point where it will not overflow when the snake enters, will suit their needs. Ambient temperature: 78-82 F; Basking temperature: 90-92 F.
Red-lipped Snakes feed on fishes, frogs, tadpoles, lizards, and other snakes. Captives sometimes accept rodents that have been scented with a frog or lizard.
Wild females produce 5-20 eggs; captive breeding has not been well documented.
Written by Frank Indiviglio