Common or Rhombie Egg Eater
Snakes | Namibia
The process of eating birds' eggs is possible in part due special 'gular' teeth (projections into the gullet from the backbone) which saw through the shell. Once the shell is broken the liquid content is devoured and the remains of the shell can be thrown up. In addition to the 'gular' teeth, the throat is capable of swallowing eggs 3 times the size of the head. Only fresh eggs are taken.
The talents of egg eaters don't end there. They have the ability to mimic venomous adders when threatened by predators such as jackals and mongooses. As they have similar colour patterns to adders, a reasonable 'hiss' by is created by forming a nested horseshoe shape of their coils and rubbing their 'serrated lateral scales' together. A strike will follow complete with open mouth offering a credible defence, although in reality they are quite harmless.
Egg eaters are oviparous. Even though they are nocturnal and terrestrial snakes, egg eaters readily climb trees and rock faces to search for birds' nests. There is only 1 species of egg eater in Namibia.
The common or rhombie egg eater is very common but rarely seen. They imitate horned adders in Namibia. One specimen of this species lived in captivity for 31 years.
Distribution: Throughout Namibia less for the true regions of the Namib Desert.
Diet: This species will stock up on birds' eggs in spring and summer, building up fat for the winter fast.
Colouring: Colour patterns blend in with the local soil and imitate venomous species of snake of the region. The back is slate-grey to light brown or olive brown with blotches and bars. The lining of the mouth is black and the belly is white.
Breeding: Females lay between 6 to 25 eggs in summer and 2 clutches may be laid per season.
Size: Max SVL male 595mm, female 964mm.
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