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the web of life in southern Africa

Psammophylax tritaeniatus (Striped skaapsteker, striped or Three-lined grass snake, White-bellied grass-snake)

Gestreepte skaapsteker [Afrikaans]; Nshwwazi [Sindebele]

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: Psammophylax


The Striped skaapsteker can be identified by the following features and behavior; it has a small head with a pointed snout, small eyes (with round pupils), stripes running lengthwise down its body and it is strictly diurnal. It grows to an average length of 65 cm but can reach up to 93 cm in length.

Distribution and habitat

Has a very wide distribution and is found in the following areas; Free State, Gauteng, North West province, Limpopo, Zimbabwe, most of Botswana and North Eastern Namibia. Its favoured habitats are grasslands, karoo scrub, arid savanna and moist savanna (it is often found in vlei areas in these habitats).


Feeds on rodents (e.g. rats and mice) and occasionally nestling birds. Young specimens feed on frogs and lizards (particularly skinks). 

Predators, parasites and disease

Fed on by birds of prey (particularly secretary birds and snake eagles) and other snakes.


Oviparous (egg laying), lays between 5 and 18 eggs in summer.


Uncertain likely to have an average lifespan between 5 and 10 years.

Medical importance

The venom of this snake is weak and unlikely to have any effect on 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.