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The West African Sand Boa (Eryx muelleri)

Other images

Head of West African Sand Boa

Adult West African Sand Boa

another view of an Adult West African Sand Boa

closeup of the fleshy "claw" on the tail

a view of the underside of the tail showing the characteristic "claw"

(thanks to Dave and Tracy Barker and Dave Sorenson for supplying pictures of this almost unknown snake!)

Other names

Mueller's Sand Boa, Saharan Sand Boa

For an explanation of my use of the genus Eryx for this taxon (as opposed to Gongylophis) see the taxonomy page



E</u>. <u>muelleri range map


This is one of the poorly known taxa of Sand Boas.   Eryx muelleri is found in the western part of Africa in the southern Sahara, from Mauritania east into the eastern Sudan.  Tokar (1995) looked at specimens from Mauritania, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, and Sudan.   It probably also occurs in Mali, Niger, and Chad.   The approximate range is shown in the map to the right.

In general appearance, the West African Sand Boa is very similar to the East African Sand Boa, E. colubrinus, but differs in having a hooklike "claw" on the end of its tail.   The color pattern is generally a yellowish to orange background with rounded or oval dark brown blotches.

This species has recently been imported into the United States by Dave and Tracy Barker of VPI Pythons.  They say these are docile creatures which are adjusting well to captivity.  Hopefully this will lead to a captive population of this beautiful little sandboa.  

Due to the presence of these recently imported snakes in the US, we now have learned that this species (like E. jayakari) lays eggs.  The eggs were laid very late in development and hatched within 14 days of being laid.

This photo shows the what is probably the first captive born Eryx muelleri ever seen!  This snake was produced by Bruce Miller of Redding Reptiles.  Many thanks to Bruce for allowing me to use the photo..


Roman, Benigno. 1980. Serpents de Haute-Volta (Snakes of Upper Volta). C.N.R.S.T. Ouagadougou. pp. 105-106.

Go on to the Somali Sand Boa
Return to the Genus Eryx
Return to the Sand Boa Home Page

Chris Harrison
19 October, 2001

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