The northern stripe-bellied sand snake (Psammophis sudanensis) is a slender and quick diurnal snake inhabiting savannas, grasslands, and sandy scrub-forests in central and eastern Africa. Sand snakes belong to the Psammophiinae, a small subfamily of seven genera including the beaked snake Rhamphiophis, which would be so amazing to see here at Mpala. Psammophis primarily feeds on lizards, using acute vision and rapid pursuit to take down its prey. Like many colubrids and lamprophiids, Psammophis is opisthoglyphous, meaning fangs are present at the rear of the mouth for subduing prey. This individual was a juvenile and probably subsists mostly on skinks of the genus Trachylepis, though adults can take larger prey such as red-headed agamas. A few hours ago I saw my first adult of this species by the hippo pools. It had an even starker contrast between the pale bands and dark brown dorsum. Both juveniles and adults are also characterized by a bright yellow belly, easily visible when the snake picks its head up a few inches off the ground. Much like racers, these snakes can be difficult to observe among thick vegetation. They are often fired up during the heat of the day and all that can be seen is a stripey blur.
Photographed after disturbance