While visiting the iSimangaliso Wetland Park recently, we came across this tiny snake at the Amazibu Hide between St. Lucia Town and Cape Vidal.
Referring to our copy of the Field Guide to Snakes and Other Reptiles of Southern Africa (Bill Branch, Third Edition 1998), Marilize suspected it to be a Variegated or Spotted Slug Eater, an identification confirmed with the assistance of the helpful people at the SA Reptiles Forum.
These snakes are endemic to a very small piece of South Africa’s north-eastern and Mozambique’s southern coastline, occurring in dune forests and grasslands (habitat in abundance at iSimangaliso). It burrows in leaf litter and sandy substrates and, as its name suggests, feeds on slugs and snails. Females give birth to between 7 and 20 live young, about 10cm in length, in late summer, which would mean the 12cm-long specimen we encountered was still quite young (Adults grow to between 22cm and 34cm).
Just goes to show that no matter how much time you spend in natural environments, there’s always something new to discover and interesting to learn!