Aspidelaps scutatus (Shield-nose snake)

Skildneusslang [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: Elapidae > Genus: Aspidelaps

Aspidelaps scutatus scutatus (Speckled sheld-nose snake), Mozambique. [photo I.C. and A. Sharp , from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Aspidelaps scutatus intermedius (Intermediate shield-nose snake), Mpumalanga. [photo I.C. and A. Sharp , from SARCA Virtual Museum]


The Shield-nose snake can be identified by the following features and behaviors; its short thick body, a single large nasal scale, its cobra like ability to lift its head of the ground (it does however not spread a hood), its habit of playing dead when threatened and its strictly nocturnal way of life. It grows to an average length of 45 cm but may reach 75 cm in length. 

Distribution and habitat

Distribution of the three recognised subspecies is as follows:

  • Aspidelaps scutatus scutatus (Speckled shield-nose snake): Northern Namibia, Botswana, western Zimbabwe, Limpopo.
  • Aspidelaps scutatus intermedius (Intermediate shield-nose snake): Mpumalanga
  • Aspidelaps scutatus fulafulus: south-eastern Zimbabwe and southern Mozambique


Feeds on amphibians, small mammals, lizards and other snakes.

Predators, parasites and disease

Eaten by other snakes.


Oviparous lays between 4 and 14 eggs in summer and is known to coil around them in order provide protection from predators.


Uncertain probably has an average lifespan of 10 years.

Medical importance

The venom of this snake has not been well studied, but it is likely to be neurotoxic and has caused at least one victims death. There is no antivenom available for this species.



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. Complete Guide to the Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.


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