Heterolepis capensis Smith, 1847, Eastern districts of Cape Province, South Africa. Three subspecies are recognized.
OTHER COMMON NAMES German: Kap-Feilennatter.
As with other filesnakes, the body of this species has the distinctive triangular cross-section that inspired the common name. The shape results from highly modified vertebrae, which have long processes that project dorsally and laterally. Reaching about 60 in (1.5 m) in length, this species has narrow, keeled dorsal scales with patches of bare skin between them and an enlarged row of scales down the center of the back. The dorsal color is gray or dark brown, with a white or yellow mid-dorsal stripe.
Ranges through most of sub-Saharan Africa, from Cameroon and Somalia to the Cape.
The Cape filesnake occupies a variety of habitats but is especially prevalent in savannas.
This is a terrestrial species that is active nocturnally. FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
Although the Cape filesnake feeds on a variety of vertebrates, including lizards and mammals, snakes are the preferred prey. This species constricts its prey and may consume snakes that are very long relative to its own body.
This species is oviparous, usually laying about six eggs. The hatchlings are large, about 15.8 in (40 cm) in length.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS None known. ♦
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