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Last updated on April 24, 2014 at 5:50 EDT

Mole Snake, Pseudaspis cana

The Mole Snake (Pseudaspis cana) is a South African species of snake in the Colubridae family. Like a majority of this family, the mole snake is non-venomous, although it can be quite aggressive and has been known to cause severe bite wounds.

Although the young have dark markings and spots, a fully developed mole snake is usually mostly one color. Colors may vary from brown, grey, yellow and black. The Mole Snake may grow up to lengths of almost seven feet. Interestingly enough, the color of the specimen appears to be largely associated with the region the snake resides in, such as black in the south and brown, grey or yellow in the north. Some characteristics of the species are a pointed snout accompanied by a small head, with a firm, tubular body.

The mole snake’s primary food supply consists of golden moles (referenced in the name itself), rodents, and other smaller mammals, making it useful for natural rodent population control. The mole snake has also been observed feeding on the eggs of sea-birds, such as the African penguin, gull, and guinea-fowl. The Karoo Prinia is an especially vulnerable species to snakes. The mole snake acts as one of the six species to cause reproductive loss and low birth rates for this bird.

The mole snake, as a whole, has populated almost all of Southern Africa, but is most commonly found in Kalahari Gemsbok National Park. It’s been widely distributed, ranging from Kenya in the east, to Angola in the north, to South Africa. This snake tends to live in the abandoned burrows of other animals. The species can be found in a multitude of habitats, like the scrublands of the South African Cape and the Highveld plateau and grasslands. The P. cana has also been found in mountainous and desert areas.

As a species that gives birth to live young, the mating rituals of the snake occur in late spring (October in the Southern Hemisphere). The female tends to give birth to between 25 and 50 offspring, although as many as 95 are possible. The young are usually 7.8 to 11.8 inches at birth.

Image Credit: MB Paehler/Wikipedia (CC BY-SA 2.5)

Mole Snake Pseudaspis cana