Rhombic Night Adder and Rhombic Egg Eater.

How to tell the differences between these two common and often misidentified snakes.

Rhombic Night Adder (Venomous) and Rhombic Egg Eater (Harmless)

Rhombic Night Adder – Causus rhombeatus

These venomous snakes bite a lot of people, typically who underestimate their demeanour and venom potency.
Being mostly active during the day, a short robust snake (average 50-60cm) which is common along the moister eastern half of South Africa to around the Southern Cape where there are an abundance of frogs and toads which make up its primary food source.
With a noticeable it has V-shaped marking on its head along with distinct black chevrons or blotches down the back, smooth scales and round pupils.

Bites from the Night Adder are dangerous and will require medical attention despite contradicting reports of their venom only being very mildly venomous. Anti-venom is not used nor effective in treating the bites.

Rhombic Egg Eater – Dasypeltis scabra

An attractively marked harmless snake which is mostly active at night. A slender snake with a vague V-shaped marking behind the head, with distinct black (sometimes rust or red) irregular blotches or markings down the back with keeled (rough) scales and vertical pupils. Common across the entire country Egg Eaters are common and often found in bird aviaries where they seek out their sole food source of bird eggs. The eggs are swallowed whole and the shell is regurgitated after the contents of the egg have been sucked down.

The Rhombic Egg Eater is common and often encountered during clean up operations as it will seek refuge in just a  bout anything. From Rubble piles, under logs and stones. When first encountered they will put on an impressive display and rub their scales together causing an impressive “hissing sound” while striking out aggressively with its mouth agape exposing a black lining and amongst toothless mouth.

This post serves as a good reference point to point out the obvious differences between the two of South Africa’s most common snakes Rhombic Night Adder and Rhombic Egg Eater.

In short, once you’re aware of the difference between the two species it is relatively easy to tell them apart. But should you willingly pick up either of these two snakes if you find a snake in your garden? Absolutely not, any snakebite should be treated as a medical emergency.

by Tyrone Ping

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *