Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake)

Molslang, Swartslang or Luislang [Afrikaans]; Inkwakhwa [Xhosa]; uBhulube, umJungendlu [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: Boodontinae

Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Western Cape [K. Drummond-Hay , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Western Cape [M. Carstens , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Northern Cape. [G. Diedericks , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Kgalagadi, Botswana. [M. Adams , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Juvenile Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Western Cape [S. Steiner , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Pseudaspis cana (Mole snake), Western Cape, medium-sized specimen. [D. Gwynne-Evans , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


The Mole snake can be identified by its uniform brown, grey or black colour (juveniles have zigzag or mottled markings), its preference for burrowing, a round pupil and highly aggressive self-defence display. It grows to an average length of 1.4 meters but may reach 2 meters in length particularly in the Cape. 

Distribution and habitat

The distribution of this snake widespread, It is present throughout southern Africa and in nearly all habitats. Its preferred habitat is grassveld.


Eats rodents (particularly rats, mice and gerbils), moles and birds. Juveniles however are largely restricted to lizards.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by birds of prey (secretary birds and snake eagles), other snakes and mammalian predators such as Black-jacked jackal (see photos below).

This Black-jacked jackal attacked this mole snake presumably to eat it but as can be seen in the left-hand photo, the snake manage to bite the jackal. After that the jackal had anothe go at subduing it - don't know if it eventually managed to kill it and eat it. Photographed in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park by Lorinda Steenkamp .


Viviparous (gives birth to live young), gives birth to between 25 and 50 young (or up to 95 in rare cases) in late summer.


Has been known to live for 20 years in captivity.

Medical importance

Non-venomous and not dangerous to man but can be very aggressive and able inflict a painful bite.



  • 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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