Click Here for Mobile Access - http://mobile.kingsnake.com
Locate a business by name: click to list your business
search the classifieds. buy an account
reptile events by zip code list an event
News & Events: Bridging the divide between herps and humans . . . . . . . . . .  Explanation for ball python disease found? . . . . . . . . . .  Herp Video of the Week: Lizard Greets Man Like a Dog! . . . . . . . . . .  Endangered frog finally recognized . . . . . . . . . .  Conservation group works with locals to save endangered crocs . . . . . . . . . .  Deadly fungus spreading to snakes? . . . . . . . . . .  Unusual mutation found in wild snake . . . . . . . . . .  Herp Video of the Week: Snapping Turtle refuses to move! . . . . . . . . . .  Desert tortoise shot in Arizona . . . . . . . . . .  Snake milker faces danger to help others . . . . . . . . . .  Indian snake-catcher aims to educate . . . . . . . . . .  Arizona desperate for tortoise adopters . . . . . . . . . .  Herp Video of the Week: Small turtle attacks a fluffy cat! . . . . . . . . . .  Killing crocs not the solution to attacks . . . . . . . . . .  Roads cause roadblocks for snakes . . . . . . . . . .  ReptiDay Fort Pierce - Sept 27, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Repticon Kansas City - Sept 27-28, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  NARBC Arlington - Sept 27-28, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Georgia Reptile Experience - Sept 27-28, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  East Coast Reptile Super Expo - Sept 27, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Western New York Fall Reptile Show - Sept 28, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Repticon Oklahoma City - Oct. 04-05, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Lone Star Reptile Expo - Oct 04-05, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  All Maryland Reptile Show - Oct 04, 2014 . . . . . . . . . .  Nebraska Reptile Breeders Expo - Oct 5, 2014 . . . . . . . . . . 
follow us on facebook follow us on twitter follow us on YouTube link to us on LinkedIn follow us on kingsnake connect

click to return to kingsnake.com index

The East African Sand Boa (Eryx colubrinus)


Other Images

male "Egyptian" Sand Boa
male "Tanzanian" Sand Boa attempting to mate with female.
female "Tanzanian" Sand Boa
head of female "Kenyan" Sand Boa

Images of captive color morphs are included further down this page.

Other Names

Kenyan Sand Boa, Egyptian Sand Boa, East African Sand Boa, African Sand Boa


Introduction

The East African Sand Boa is the Sand Boa that is most commonly kept in the United States.   This species is found in Tanzania, Kenya, much of Ethiopia, Sudan, northern Somalia, northern Chad, western Niger, Egypt, and western Lybia.   It has also been reported from the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen.  (I recently received a correspondence from Stephen Spawls, in Ethiopia, who informed me that in Ethiopia, "the sand boas are only found in the low altitude areas, i.e the extreme north-east, the east and south-east (and along the Kenya border)").  (I will in the future correct my map, but for now want to at least acknowledge the error of my current map).

This species has traditionally been treated as two subspecies, the Egyptian (E. c. colubrinus) and the Kenyan (E. c. loveridgei).   These two subspecies were differentiated on the amount of brown/black spotting on the sides of the snake, but in the pet trade, the distinguishing characteristic was inferred to be the background color (orange in Kenyans, yellow in Egyptians).

However, the taxonomic distinction between the "Egyptian" and "Kenyan" Sand Boas is unwarranted.   Tokar (1996) examined the patterns of geographic variation seen in this species across its range and concluded that there were no consistent differences that could be used to distinguish the subspecies colubrinus and loveridgei.

The pet trade has further complicated this issue.   Many "Egyptian" Sand Boas (i.e. light yellow/orange animals from northeastern Africa) are sold in the U.S. as "Kenyan" Sand Boas.   Sometimes this has been based on not recognizing any taxonomic distinction between the two, but more frequently the herpetocultural taxonomy is driven by greed (the darker orange "Kenyans" typically command a higher price than "Egyptians").   This is unfortunate as the "Egyptian" Sand Boa is a beautiful snake in its own right.   It is typically paler than the average "Kenyan", with brown spotting on a yellowish ground color.

Tokar also discusses a third "phase" of this taxon (the "rufescens" phase).   This phase is currently not available in captive snakes.   "Rufescens" phase snakes are uniformly brown-backed snakes with light (orange/yellow) sides.   Steve Spawls sent me this photo of a young "rufescens" sand boa from north eastern Ethiopia.  Although this individual is fairly rufous on the back (thus "rufescens"), Steve informed me that specimens from further south, down towards Kenya, are considerably darker.  In fact, they are dark enough that Somali snake collectors refused to collect them as they confused them with the venomous Stiletto Snakes (aka Burrowing Vipers) of the genus Atractaspis.  This is the only photo I have ever seen of this morph, and I am very grateful to Steve for allowing me to use this interesting image.

It is interesting that this dark-backed color pattern is also found in the Arabian Sand Boa, the Rough-scaled Sand Boa (described as "E. whitakeri") and the Desert Sand Boa (often called "E. nogaiorum")  (see the discussion under the latter two species accounts for more on those phases).

This species is now bred in large numbers in captivity.   There is a widely bred amelanistic (albino) mutant available as well.   The original albino (amelanistic) "Kenyan" Sand Boas were all bred from an albino "Egyptian" Sand Boa and most amelanistic colubrinus in the herp trade today are derived from this "cross".  The snake below on the right shows an example of this color phase.   The snake on the right  was produced and photographed by The Herpetological Institute for Scientific Study (now back in business!).  (The photograph is used with their permission).

There have subsequently been amelanistic sand boas exported from Tanzania.   The snake in the photograph on the above left is a wild-caught amelanistic Sand Boa from Tanzania currently owned by Dave and Tracy Barker of VPI Pythons.   (This photograph is used with their permission).  This snake shows a few spots of black pigment that are not normally found on albino snakes.  This has led to this "morph" being named the "Paradox albino".  See the VPI page for more pics of these unusual sand boas.

There is also an anerythristic (axanthic) mutant available in the pet trade.   These snakes lack the orange/yellow pigments and are basically a white snake with black spots.   The above snake was produced by Dave and Tracy Barker of VPI Pythons and is used with their permission.  The VPI web site has a good gallery of some of the other morphs of East African Sand Boas in captivity.

Snow Kenyan Sand Boa, courtesy Herptetological Institute for Scientific Study

Amelanistic sand boas have been crossed with anerythristic sand boas to produce a "Snow" Sand Boa (kind of an oxymoron in my view).   The above Snow Sand Boa was produced by The Herpetological Institute for Scientific Study.


East African Sand Boas in Captivity

East African Sand Boas are very hardy captives.   Wild caught snakes may carry a significant parasite load and should be evaluated by a qualified veterinarian.   Captive born babies are available in large numbers every year and are relatively inexpensive.

Although this is the most commonly bred species, it is not always the most docile sand boa.   Some specimens can be downright snappy and take a period of gentle handling before they stop biting.   Almost all colubrinus will take appropriately sized mice in captivity although a few specimens, particularly small ones, may prefer lizards at first.

East African Sand Boas generally breed in June or July and produce 6-20 young in October or November.   The young snakes look like paler versions of the adults and will usually take pink mice after their first shed.   As they grow their color intensifies.

See the general care page for more information.


References

Sorenson, David. 1988. Behavior and Reproduction in the Genus Eryx. Proceedings of the 10th and 11th International Herpetological Symposia.

Tokar, A.A. 1996. Taxonomic revision of the genus Gongylophis Wagler 1830: G. colubrinus (L. 1758) (Serpentes Boidae). Tropical Zoology 9: 1-17.


Go on to the Rough-scaled Sand Boa
Return to the Genus Eryx
Return to the Sand Boa Home Page


Chris Harrison

Sponsored Link

Click here for LLL Reptile & Supply
advertise here

Herp Events

Reptile and amphibian expos, symposiums, zoo and museum exhibitions and other educational events are great places to ask questions, get answers and network with other herp keepers.
Upcoming Reptile and Amphibian Events:
Submit a non-profit event - Purchase a commercial listing

Photo Gallery

Our gallery allows registered users to upload their favorite reptile and amphibian photos to the topic galleries and personal photos to the member galleries. Photos can be used on our forums, classifieds, and Connect, or shared with friends and family.

more photos   upload a photo

snakes
lizards
amphibians
chelonians
crocodilians
venomous

New/Updated

Looking for a reptile or amphibian related business? A reptile store, breeder, importer, maunfacturer or supplier? Our business directory lists some of the most popluar herp businesses in the world.
Locate a reptile or amphibian business by name:
New
 - East Bay Vivarium
 - J.Worlds
 - Susquehanna Ectotherms
 - Sunshine Chameleons
 - PerfectPrey.com
 - CJ's Pets
 - Wicked Pythons
 - GS Reptiles
 - Eublah Exotics
 - Beechdale Animal Supplies I...
Updated
 - Mouse Works Oregon
 - Eden Reptiles
 - JB Leopard Geckos
 - Big Cheese Rodent Factory
 - SerpentsOnline.com
 - Dynasty Reptiles
 - Wicked Pythons
 - Bushmasters Online(Ripa)
 - Bion Terrarium Center
 - Bruce Edelman Reptiles
list your business on kingsnake.com

Connect

kingsnake.com's Connect is a beta project being developed to let the herp community stay in touch with their friends and fellow hobbyists, keep each other up to date on legislative issues as they develop, and to build and strengthen the herp community network. Registered users of kingsnake.com can use it to share photos, links, information, alerts, updates and more.
log in   find connections









Video Gallery

Check out these reptile and amphibian submitted by staff, volunteers, and users of the kingsnake.com community. Our system supports videos hosted on YouTube. If you have a favorite YouTube video, please submit it here.

more videos       submit a video

Site Tools

Manage - manage your user and advertising accounts
Register For A User Account Click Here
Manage Your User Profile Click Here
Reset Your Password Click Here
Change Your Email Click Here
Manage Your Banner Account/View Stats Click Here
Manage Your Business Directory Listing Click Here
Mark Your Business Directory Listing As Updated Click Here
Manage Your Classified Account Click Here
Post A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Remove A Classified Advertisement Click Here
Purchase - advertising and services purchase quick links
Purchase a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Renew a classified account$20.00-$85.00Click Here
Upgrade to an enhanced classified$ variesClick Here
Purchase a business directory listing$150 a yearClick Here
Purchase a banner advertisement$ variesClick Here
Purchase a standard event listing$100 a listingClick Here
Pay an open invoice Click Here
Contact the sales department Click Here
Support - help, tips, & resources quick links
Classified Account Terms Of Service Click Here
Classified Help Click Here
Classified Tips Click Here
Classified Complaints Click Here
Banner Ad Help Click Here
DBA Search Click Here
Business Name Registration Verification Click Here
Are you registered? To advertise here using a business name you must have your legal business name registration verified. Click here for details on the program or to register your business FREE!

Glossary