Common Names in English:
Bird Snake, Eastern Twig Or Vine Snake, Eastern Twig Snake, Oates'vine Snake, Twig Snake, Twig Snake, Vine Snake, Vine Snake
The family Colubridae, which includes the kingsnakes (Lampropeltis spp. ), is the largest, most widespread, and diverse family of snakes , with few physical characteristics universal among all species. The family contains 70 percent of the known species of snakes, with more than 1700 species worldwide (Pough et al. 1998). Although some colubrids are dangerously venomous , most are harmless to humans. 
Biome: Terrestrial .
This species inhabits savanna
, coastal thicket and forest
1998). It prefers low shrubs
, bushes and dead trees
which to rest (Marais 1992). The common name
'bird snake' is probably
an inaccurate description
of its feeding habits, as it appears to
hunt both at ground
level and in trees, and is therefore not restricted
to only aboreal foraging
This species is diurnal and oviparous , with clutch sizes of 4-13 eggs (Spawls et al. 2002)..
List of Habitats :
- 1 Forest
- 1.5 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 1.6 Forest - Subtropical/Tropical Moist Lowland
- 2 Savanna
- 2.1 Savanna - Dry
- 2.2 Savanna - Moist
- 3 Shrubland
- 3.5 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Dry
- 3.6 Shrubland - Subtropical/Tropical Moist [more info]
- Whittaker & Margulis,1978
- C. Linnaeus, 1758
- (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Grobben, 1908
- (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Bateson, 1885
- Cuvier, 1812
- Jawed Vertebrates
- Goodrich, 1930
- Superorder: Lepidosauria () -
- Infraclass: Lepidosauromorpha ()
- Subclass: Diapsida ()
- Superclass: Tetrapoda () - Goodrich, 1930
- Infraphylum: Gnathostomata () - auct. - Jawed Vertebrates
- Subphylum: Vertebrata () - Cuvier, 1812 - Vertebrates
- Phylum: Chordata () - Bateson, 1885 - Chordates
- Infrakingdom: Chordonia () - (Haeckel, 1874) Cavalier-Smith, 1998
- Branch: Deuterostomia () - Grobben, 1908
- Subkingdom: Bilateria () - (Hatschek, 1888) Cavalier-Smith, 1983
- Kingdom: Animalia () - C. Linnaeus, 1758 - animals
Dryiophis oatesi • Thelotornis capensis capensis Smith 1849 • Thelotornis capensis capensis — Auerbach 1987: 188 • Thelotornis capensis capensis — Boycott 1992 • Thelotornis Capensis Smith 1849 • Thelotornis kirtlandi • Thelotornis kirtlandi capensis Smith 1849: 19 • Thelotornis kirtlandii capensis - Loveridge 1957
Status: Accepted Name
Comment: Venomous! mossambicanus is intergrading wit oatesi and capensis in E Zimbabwe and S Mozambique (Broadley 1979; BROADLEY & HOWELL 1991). Derleyn (1978) had described T. c. schilsi from the Ruzizi plain in Burundi, but this form is known from only a few specimens and differs from T. c. mossambicanus only in its shorter tail and consequently lower subcaudal counts. mossambicanus: Description .Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0 or 3); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 1, 1 + 3 or 2 + 2); supralabials 8 (rarely 9, very rarely 6 or 7), the fourth and fifth (rarely fifth and sixth, very rarely third and fourth, or third, or fifth only) entering orbit; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 in contact with the anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19-11 or 19-19-13 rows , very rarely 17, 21 or 23 rows at midbody (23 recorded by Rasmussen, 1997); ventrals 144-169 in males, 145-172 in females; anal divided ; subcaudals 131-168 in males, 123-153 in females. Crown of head uniform green or with a black speckled Y-shaped marking, or brownish, entirely speckled with black (the two extremes may occur within a population, as on Mafia Island); temporal region always brown, speckled with black; supralabials white spotted with black, including a triangle on sixth labial , chin and throat speckled with black; dorsum ash grey with diagonal rows of whitish blotches and flecks of brown and pink or orange, neck with one or two elongate black blotches; ventrum greyish, streaked with brown (from BROADLEY 2001). Size.Largest (MHNG 1376.34 - Newala, Tanzania) 910 + 525+ (tail truncated); largest (NMZB-UM 4157 - Mutare, Zimbabwe) 895 + 510 = 1405 mm, but MCZ 18476 from Zengeragusu, Tanzania, has a snout-vent length of 920 mm (tail truncated). capensis: Description.Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0 or 3); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 1 or 1 + 3); supralabials 8 (very rarely 7 or 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth or third, fourth and fifth) entering orbit; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (very rarely 3 or 6) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19- 13 rows, rarely in 17 rows at midbody (15 rows only in TMP 45554); ventrals 144-160 in males, 148-162 in females; anal divided; subcaudals 133- 155 in males, 127-147 in females. Size.Largest (NMZB 6389 - Gwanda, Zimbabwe) 830 + 506 = 1336 mm; largest (TMP 5615 - Hectorspruit, Mpumalanga, South Africa) 911 + 455 = 1366 mm. oatesii: Description.Rostral and nasals barely visible from above; loreals usually 2 (rarely 1, very rarely 0); preocular 1; postoculars 3 (rarely 2, very rarely 1 or 4); temporals 1 + 2 (very rarely 1 + 3 or 1 + 1); supralabials 8 (rarely 7, very rarely 9), the fourth and fifth (very rarely third and fourth, fifth and sixth, third, fourth and fifth, or third, or fourth only) entering orbit; infralabials 9-13, mode 11, the first 4 or 5 (rarely 3) in contact with anterior sublinguals; dorsal scales usually in 19-19-11 or 19-19-13 rows, very rarely 17 rows at midbody; ventrals 150-177 in males, 153-177 in females; anal divided; subcaudals 132-173 in males, 126-168 in females. Size.Largest (NMZB 3828 - Mtorashanga, Zimbabwe) 1062 + 620 = 1682 mm; largest (NMZB 3600 - Lake Kariba, Zimbabwe) 975 + 560 = 1535 mm, but NMZB-UM 1061 from Shurugwe, Zimbabwe, has a snout-vent length of 1050 mm (tail truncated).
This species has four subspecies :
T. capensis capensis Smith, 1849
T. capensis oatesi (Günther, 1881))
T. capensis mossambicanus (Bocage, 1895)
T. capensis schilsi Derleyn, 1978.
The status of T. capensis schilsi as a separate subspecies is equivocal (it differs from T. capensis mossambicanus only in its shorter tail and, therefore, its lower subcaudal count).
T. capensis mossambicanus has been split into T. capensis mossambicanus and T. capenis usambaricus, with these two forms appearing to have overlapping ranges (S. Spawls pers. comm. )..
Members of the genus Thelotornis
ZipcodeZoo has pages for 2 species and subspecies in this genus:
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- Bulletin of the Museum of Comparative Zoology at Harvard College. 95 1944 Cambridge, Mass.: The Museum, 1863- url p. 154, p. 274, p. 279, p. 294.
- Catalogue of the snakes in the British Museum (Natural History) by George Albert Boulenger. London, Trustees of the B.M., 1893-96. url p. 185.
- Ophidians, zoological arrangement of the different genera, including varieties known in North and South America, the East Indies, South Africa, and Australia. Their poisons, and all that is known of t By S.B. Higgins. .. New York, Philadelphia, Boericke & Tafel, 1873. url p. 101.
- Bisby, F.A., Y.R. Roskov, M.A. Ruggiero, T.M. Orrell, L.E. Paglinawan, P.W. Brewer, N. Bailly, J. van Hertum, eds (2007). Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2007 Annual Checklist. Species 2000: Reading, U.K.
- Brands, S.J. (comp.) 1989-present. The Taxonomicon. Universal Taxonomic Services, Zwaag, The Netherlands. Accessed February 1, 2012.
- Global Biodiversity Information Facility. Accessed February 27, 2008. http://www.gbif.org Mediated distribution data from provider.
- IUCN 2012. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. . Downloaded on January 28, 2012.
- Ruggiero M., Gordon D., Bailly N., Kirk P., Nicolson D. (2011). The Catalogue of Life Taxonomic Classification, Edition 2, Part A. In: Species 2000 & ITIS Catalogue of Life: 2011 Annual Checklist (Bisby F.A., Roskov Y.R., Orrell T.M., Nicolson D., Paglinawan L.E., Bailly N., Kirk P.M., Bourgoin T., Baillargeon G., Ouvrard D., eds). DVD; Species 2000: Reading, UK.
- Spawls, S. 2011. Thelotornis capensis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloadedon 05February2012.
- TIGR Reptile Database . Release date: October 2, 2007
- Uetz, Peter. The Reptile Database
Accessed through GBIF Data Portal February 27, 2008:
- Museum of Vertebrate Zoology: Terrestrial vertebrate specimens
- Biodiversity Heritage Library NamebankID: 2545679
- Catalogue of Life Accepted Name Code: Rep-7162
- IUCN ID: 246079
- Zipcode Zoo Species Identifier: 618325
- Painter, Charles W., Chuck L. Hayes, and James N. Stuart "Recovery and Conservation of the Gray-Banded Kingsnake. New Mexico Department of Game and Fish. May 1, 2002. [back]
- Spawls, S. 2011. Thelotornis capensis. In: IUCN 2011. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2011.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 05 February 2012. [back]