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A Snake Breeder’s Delight – the African House Snake

The African or Brown House Snake (Lamprophis fuliginosus) is a very reliable breeder when properly kept, and is an excellent choice for those new to reproducing egg-laying snakes in captivity.  What’s more, it is so gorgeous and variably-colored that many folks with long years of experience manage to find a place for a pair in their collections.


Brown House Snakes may well be Africa’s most common and widespread serpents.  Their range encompasses a wide variety of habitats extending throughout almost all of West and Sub-Saharan Africa. 


The “House” part of their name is fitting, as they adapt well to human presence.  “Brown”, however, does this snake no justice, as they exhibit a stunning variety of iridescent background colors, including tan to almost black, orange, red, olive and green.  Most have a pair of white stripes on the head, but the body itself may be solid in color, striped or spotted.

As you can imagine, breeders have great fun creating new colors and patterns, and a wide array are now available.  Anyone looking for experience in color morph creation need search no further than the African House Snake.

Females average 3-4 feet in length, with some topping 5 feet; males rarely exceed 3 feet, and both sexes are slender in build.

Captive Breeding

Patternless House SnakeAn ambient temperature of 78 F with a basking site of 85-90 F suits individuals from most populations.  While some breed more reliably when chilled to 60 F for 4 weeks or so, others reproduce when maintained at a stable temperature year-round.  Considering their extensive range, determining the origin of your specimens would be useful when considering captive reproduction.

Mating usually occurs in the spring, with healthy females producing multiple clutches of 2-16 eggs each summer and fall.  At 82 F, eggs typically hatch in 65-72 days, but a range of 55-85 days has been reported.  Hatch rates are invariably high, often approaching 100%.

The young average 6-10 inches in length and, despite being quite slender, can usually take pink mice as a first meal.  Sexual maturity is reached by age 2, when the snakes are 24-30 inches long.

Further Reading

Several of the 15 House Snake species inhabit the same areas, but consume different prey – please see this interesting field research report for more info.  


House Snake Juvenile image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Dawson
Patternless House Snake image referenced from wikipedia and originally posted by Erikpaterson

About Frank Indiviglio

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Being born with a deep interest in animals might seem unfortunate for a native Bronxite , but my family encouraged my interest and the menagerie that sprung from it. Jobs with pet stores and importers had me caring for a fantastic assortment of reptiles and amphibians. After a detour as a lawyer, I was hired as a Bronx Zoo animal keeper and was soon caring for gharials, goliath frogs, king cobras and everything in-between. Research has taken me in pursuit of anacondas, Orinoco crocodiles and other animals in locales ranging from Venezuela’s llanos to Tortuguero’s beaches. Now, after 20+ years with the Bronx Zoo, I am a consultant for several zoos and museums. I have spent time in Japan, and often exchange ideas with zoologists there. I have written books on salamanders, geckos and other “herps”, discussed reptile-keeping on television and presented papers at conferences. A Master’s Degree in biology has led to teaching opportunities. My work puts me in contact with thousands of hobbyists keeping an array of pets. Without fail, I have learned much from them and hope, dear readers, that you will be generous in sharing your thoughts on this blog and web site. For a complete biography of my experience click here.
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