Common Egg-Eating Snake Fact File


The common egg-eating snake is one of five species of egg-eating snake in Africa. They have a long, slender body which is grey or reddish-brown in color. This is patterned with darker, angular patterns.

Their head ends with a rounded snout. It is highly flexible to allow the snake to swallow eggs, their main food source.

Due to their diet of eggs they are one of the few snakes which do not have any teeth.

Their body measures between 50 and 90cm (20-36in) long. This species has a maximum weight of 0.5kg (1lb).


The common egg-eating snake feeds exclusively on eggs. These may be up to three times the size of their head.

As such they ingest a large quantity of food during the breeding season of birds and fast for the remainder of the year.

Snakes test eggs with their tongue to determine that they are fresh as they can not digest rotten eggs or bird fetuses.

Once the egg is inside their mouth they pierce it with the tooth like structures at the back of their mouth.

Only the egg white and yolk is digested while the shell is crushed up and regurgitated as it cannot be digested.

common egg eating snake

Scientific Name

Dasypeltis scabra

Conservation Status

Least Concern


0.5kg (1lb)


50-90cm (20-36in)


22 years



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Africa is the native home of the common egg-eating snake. Here they can be found in Angola; Botswana; Burundi; Congo, The Democratic Republic of the; Egypt; Eritrea; Eswatini; Ethiopia; Kenya; Lesotho; Malawi; Mali; Mozambique; Namibia; Rwanda; Somalia; South Africa; South Sudan; Sudan and Tanzania.

Further study on this species is needed to clarify the exact range of them and the other snakes within their genus.


These snakes are primarily found on savannas but may also make use of forest, shrubland and semi-desert.

common egg eating snake


Each year a female will lay between six and 25 eggs.


Common egg-eating snakes are primarily active by night. During the day they will seek shelter in a log or under a rock. They will emerge at night to feed.

These snakes are adept climbers which helps them to reach the nests of birds.

common egg eating snake

Predators and Threats

To defend themselves against predators they will mimic a saw-scaled viper by rubbing together keeled scales to produce a raspy hissing sound.

These snakes are non-venomous.

Common egg-eating snakes are threatened by collection for the pet trade and habitat loss due to the expansion of agriculture.

Quick facts

They may also be known as the African egg-eating snake or the Rhombic egg-eating snake.

common egg eating snake

Photo Credits


Public Domain

Middle One

I, Wildfeuer, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

Middle Two and Bottom

Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons


Jackson, T. and Chinery, M., 2005. Animals of Africa & Europe. London: Southwater.

Burnie, D., 2011. Animal. 3rd ed. London: DK

Geniez, P., Crochet, P-A., Maryan, B., & Broadley, D. 2010. Dasypeltis scabra. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2010: e.T176780A7303182. Downloaded on 29 April 2021. 2021. Egg-eating Snake (Overview & Care Sheet) - [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 April 2021].

Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021. Egg-eating snake | reptile. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 April 2021].

Reptiles Magazine. 2021. Egg-Eating Snake - Reptiles Magazine. [online] Available at: <> [Accessed 29 April 2021].

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