In the slow lane


If snakes give you the heebie-jeebies, don’t worry about the harmless olive house snakes. Although these nocturnal and terrestrial slow movers behave similarly to brown house snakes, Lycodonomorphus inornatus has since been moved to the same genus as water snakes. Also commonly known as the black house snake and the olive ground snake, they’re partial to hanging around houses, with a penchant for damp areas. Because that’s where they get a banquet of lizards, rodents and other snakes for their feasts.

In a eat or be eaten world, various types of raptors, including the snake eagle, the secretary bird and other snakes prey on them.

Varying in colour from olive-green, grey-green and light brown to black, the olive house snake is often mistaken for a black mamba or brown water snake. The belly and especially the chin, throat and neck are slightly lighter. It averages 30 – 60 cm in length, but ultimately reaches a respectable 1.3 m. Endemic to southern Africa, including the West Coast, the females lay between five to 15 eggs.

But beware: generally docile, they may bite when molested. Interestingly, the herp community raves about these snakes as pets. Not only do they have a relaxed temperament, but also are low maintenance.

Ref:;; photo: Willem van Zyl,