Samiksha Jaiswal

Cape file snake

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Kingdom  Animalia
Suborder  Serpentes
Subfamily  Boodontinae
Scientific name  Mehelya capensis
Higher classification  Mehelya
Order  Scaled reptiles
Subphylum  Vertebrata
Family  Colubridae
Genus  Mehelya
Phylum  Chordata
Rank  Species
Cape file snake httpsc1staticflickrcom3274242226823024e6e
Similar  Mehelya, Snake, Reptile, Gonionotophis, Colubridae

Cape file snake mehelya capensis

Mehelya capensis, commonly known as the Cape file snake, is a species of large, non-venomous snake endemic to Africa, belonging to the family Colubridae. It is one of several species in the genus Mehelya, all of which are considered varieties of file snake. File snakes are set apart by their unusual scale patterns.


Cape file snake Mehelya capensis Southern file snake Cape file snake

Cape file snake mehelya capensis

Geographic range

Cape file snake SAReptiles View topic Cape File Snake photos

It is found from Natal northwards through the former Transvaal and Zimbabwe, and westwards to the Caprivi Strip and Namibia, thence northwards to Cameroon and Somalia.


Cape file snake Minden Pictures stock photos Cape file snake Mehelya capensis

With an average total length (body + tail) of about 120 centimetres (3 ft 11 in), specimens of 165 cm (5 ft 5 in) total length have been recorded. It has a very flat head, and its body is strikingly triangular in cross-section.

Cape file snake CalPhotos

The Cape file snake's dorsal scales are strongly keeled with extensive pink-purple bare skin between the scales. Its colour is mostly grey to grey-brown, but occasionally dark olive to purple-brown. The prominent vertebral stripe is white to yellow, while the belly is ivory white to cream.

Cape file snake Cape File Snake Mehelya capensis mehelya Flickr

The dorsal scales, in addition to the strong primary keel, have secondary keels and tubercles, but no apical pits. The dorsal scales are arranged in 15 rows at midbody (in 17 rows on the neck). The ventrals number 203-241. The anal plate is undivided. The subcaudals number 45-61, and are divided (in two rows).


Three subspecies are recognized, including the nominotypical subspecies.

  • Mehelya capensis capensis (A. Smith, 1847)
  • Mehelya capensis savorgnani (Mocquard, 1887)
  • Mehelya capensis unicolor (Boulenger, 1910)
  • Habitat

    Mehelya capensis prefers savannahs and coastal forests.


    Cape file snake Mehelya capensis Southern file snake Cape file snake

    Though it is not venomous, the Cape file snake is a highly successful predator of other snakes, easily following a scent trail and apparently immune to all venom. It also preys on small vertebrates.


    Rarely attempting to bite when captured, it may defecate in self-defence.


    This species is oviparous. In summer, an adult female may lay one or two clutches of eggs. Clutch size varies from 5-13. The eggs are large, 47-55 mm (about 2 inches) long, by 20-31 mm (about 1 inch) wide. The hatchlings are 39-42 cm (about 16 inches) in total length (body + tail).


    Cape file snake Wikipedia

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