Psammophis brevirostris (Short-snouted whip snake, Short-snouted whip snake)

Kortsnoetsweepslang [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: Colubridae > Subfamily: Psammophinae > Genus: Psammophis

Psammophis brevirostris in Potchefstroom garden, shortly before shedding its skin [photo Peet van Schalkwyk , see also]


The Short-snouted whip snake can be identified by its aggressive demeanor, its large eyes, dark stripes down its length, its nervousness and strictly diurnal lifestyle. It grows to an average length of 60 cm and a maximum length of 1.2 meters.

Distribution and habitat

Found in the eastern half of South Africa, Swaziland, the Zimbabwe / Mozambique border, Botswana and eastern Namibia. It is found in a variety of habitats ranging from grassland to the Namib Desert.


Eats other snakes, rodents, lizards and birds.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by small carnivorous mammals  (e.g. meerkats and mongooses), birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles) and other snakes.


Oviparous (egg-laying), lays between 4 and 15 eggs and often two clutches in summer.


Likely to have an average lifespan of 10 years.

Medical importance

Although venomous is 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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