Reptiles of South Africa

© Roger de la Harpe
Reptiles of South Africa - Tree Agama.
South Africa’s unique biodiversity allows for over 350 species of reptiles to thrive in the country. Reptiles are cold-blooded creatures who enjoy the South African sun and prosper in various regions of the country. South Africa is home to the richest diversity of lizards, snakes, crocodiles, tortoises, chameleons, and turtles on the African continent. SouthAfrica.co.za explains the life and times of the large variety of indigenous reptiles of the country in 11 official languages, providing descriptive information on their habitat, feeding and appearance.

Black Mamba

The black mamba of South Africa is covered in grey to green gunmetal scales, which are smooth, with a pale-green underbelly. They have a distinct black mouth lining that gives them their name....more

Boomslang

The boomslang has large eyes with round pupils, that dominate the distinct head. This is a large snake whose scales can range from bright green, black, grey, red and orange....more

Brown House Snake

The brown house snake is distinguished by its uniform brown-reddish scales that turn darker as it gets older. It also has two yellow streaks on the sides of its very large head....more

Cape Wolf Snake

They are found throughout the African subcontinent except for the Namib Desert. The Cape wolf snake is distributed throughout South Africa, however, they are rarely found in the Cape Provinces....more

Flap-necked Chameleon

The flap-neck chameleon is characterised by its large continuous crest containing small white, triangular tubercles that stem from the throat to the belly....more

Leopard Tortoise

The leopard tortoise lays between 6-15 large shelled eggs in a hole dug by the female. Which she refills and using her belly tramps down the soil. In South Africa, hatchlings weigh...more

Nile Crocodile

Crocodiles have been observed to use cooperative feeding behaviour, whereby a number feed together each holding onto the carcass whilst twisting around using their tails to tear off chunks of meat....more

Olive Grass Snake

The olive grass snake is found along the coastal regions in South Africa, mainly in Northern KwaZulu-Natal....more

Ornate Sandveld Lizard

The ornate sandveld lizard is found through Swaziland over the Lebombo Mountains into Northern Zululand and Mpumalanga and into Northern Gauteng....more

Puff Adder

The puff adder of South Africa is a large snake with yellow-brown to light brown colour adorned with black pale edged chevrons dorsally and bars on the tail. It has a large triangular...more

Rhombic Egg Eater

The rhombic egg-eater only feeds on eggs. Its mouth is lined with ridges which aid the swallowing of the egg. Once the contents of the egg has passed through the stomach, the shell is regurgitated whole....more

Serrated Hinged Terrapin

The serrated hinged terrapin can be found in South Africa in region of Zululand, as well as in tropical East Africa and along the Zambezi River to the Victoria Falls....more

Snouted Cobra

The snouted cobra venom is a potent mix of neurotoxic and cytotoxic cocktail, which results in tissue damage at the bite site and severe neurological disruptions throughout the body that can lead to...more

Southern Tree Agama

The southern tree agama can be found in South Africa on the coast of KwaZulu-Natal. It can also be found in Lobatse in Eastern Botswana, Ovamboland in Namibia, Ethiopia and throughout...more

Spekes Hinged Tortoise

Males and females measure 140 to 160 mm in length, this tortoise is medium in size. The shell of a young Speke’s hinged-back tortoise has a zonary pattern...more

Spotted Bush Snake

The spotted bush snake can be found in the northern areas of South Africa, stretching into the Kalahari and Northern Cape. To the east, it occurs in Namaqualand, and to the west in Port Elizabeth....more

Spotted Thick Toed Gecko

Male spotted thick-toed geckos measure 48mm in length, whereas females are 58mm. They are tiny, gentle creatures with fat bodies and rounded snouts. Its back is grey to...more

Striped Skink

The striped skink is medium sized, both males and females measuring 60 to 90 mm. Their body colour differs between subspecies. They have a transparent window in each lower...more

Sundevalls Writhing Skink

The Sundevall’s writhing skink can be found in South Africa in the Kalahari Gemsbok Park. It occurs in Angola and Somalia, as well as in the northern regions of sub-Saharan Africa....more

Variable Skink

In South Africa, the variable skink can be found in the southern regions of the Eastern Cape. To the west of the continent, they occur in Namibia, Angola and Congo, and through East Africa to Sudan and Somalia....more

Vine Snake

Female southern vine snakes are 975 mm in length, whereas males measure 1062 mm. Its body is very thin and its tail long. The head is spear-shaped, and its eyes large with pupils...more

White-Throated Monitor

Male and female white-throated monitors are 400 to 500 mm. It is a very large and stocky lizard with strong claws and limbs. It is a dark greyish-brown colour on its back, marked with five or six light yellow blotches...more