Xenocalamus transvaalensis (Transvaal quill-snouted snake, Speckled quill-snouted snake)

Transvaalse spitsneusslang; Transvaalse skerpneusslang [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: Atractaspididae > Genus: Xenocalamus

Xenocalamus transvaalensis (Transvaal quill-snouted snake), Kwa-Zulu-Natal, South Africa. [photo J. Harvey , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


The Transvaal Quill-snouted snake can be identified by the following features; a small quill-shaped head, small eyes and black and yellow colouration that gives it a chequered appearance. It grows to an average length of 40 cm and a maximum length of 47 cm.

Distribution and habitat

This snakes distribution is restricted to north east KwaZulu-Natal, the South Africa / Mozambique border and Limpopo. Its favoured habitat is  alluvial sand in moist savanna and lowland forest.


Eats burrowing skinks and worm lizards.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes.


Oviparous (egg-laying), lays 2 eggs in summer.


Medical importance

Although venomous is no threat 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.


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