Philothamnus natalensis (Natal green snake, Eastern green snake)

Natalse groenslang [Afrikaans]; Ivusamanzi eliluhlaza [Zulu]

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: Philothamnus

Philothamnus natalensis (Natal green snake, Eastern green snake) in tree next to water, KwaZulu-Natal. [A. Marais , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Philothamnus natalensis eating frog (inset shows close-up of head with frog). [photo photo Arno Meintjes ]

Pair of Philothamnus natalensis copulating on stairs, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. [A. Manson , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


The Natal green snake can be identified by its round pupils, a white or yellow underside, a particularly good swimming and tree climbing ability and an arboreal diurnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 90 cm but may reach up to 1.3 meters.

Distribution and habitat

Found on the South Africa / Mozambique border and southern Mozambique. It is encountered in a variety of habitats ranging from lowland forest to grassland.


Eats frogs and geckos.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes (particularly vine snakes), birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles).


Oviparous (egg-laying), usually lays between 4 and 6 eggs but may lay up to 14 eggs.


Likely to have an average lifespan of 10 years.

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.


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