Cape House Snake or Brown House Snake - how do I tell which one I've got? - FaunaClassifieds
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Old 03-07-2007, 08:50 AM   #1
Ssthisto
Cape House Snake or Brown House Snake - how do I tell which one I've got?

I recently acquired an adult female house snake shes definitely either a Cape (L. capensis) or a Brown (L. fuliginosus) but I dont know how to tell which species she is.

Ive read some things stating that Capes have eye stripes that break at the back of the skull and that Browns have stripes that continue unbroken down the neck but Ive also seen photos of a clutch of animals from eggs with good fertility who show both traits. Ours has broken eye stripes that stop at the base of the neck and do not continue from there, and she has very, very minimal markings generally. Our female, Cinnamon (so called because she looks like the cinnamon phase animals Ive seen photos of) is a former rescue animal, so we dont know what locality she came from or whether she herself was captive bred.

Is there a reliable way of distinguishing Cape House snakes from Brown House snakes, other than breeding an unknown-species animal to a member of each of the two species and seeing which one produces viable hatchlings?
 
Old 03-07-2007, 08:57 AM   #2
Cat_72
Here's a very helpful link recently given to me by Dennis Hultman....there are 3 pages to the thread I believe, and it is loaded with great pics as well as written descriptions of each type.

http://www.saltwaterreptiles.com/in...viewtopic&t=334
 
Old 03-07-2007, 09:11 AM   #3
Ssthisto
Unfortunately, all that link told me is that yes, I've got either a Cape or a Brown - because the outward colour/shape of the two species, based on those photos, are the same. It doesn't help that THOSE photos go against what I'd read on another site - in the photos on that link, it's the Capes that have an eye stripe that continues down the neck before breaking, and the Browns that have the eyestripe that breaks at the base of the skull. Cinnamon looks very much like the first photo of the Cape - but she also looks like the first and third photos of the Browns.

Cape House Snakes were originally classified as Lamprophis fuliginosus - until they discovered that animals from the Cape localities were not cross-fertile with the animals from further north - they produce very poor, small clutches and the offspring that do make it tend to be infertile themselves. Then they were renamed to Lamprophis capensis.

That's why something like scale count differences or a dichotomous key would be useful... because I don't really want to have to test Cinnamon against WC males of known locality/species and making her lay at least one clutch of "doesn't work" eggs.
 
Old 03-10-2007, 09:24 AM   #4
IBsmokin
ventral scale count, if its under 200, its definately not Fuliginosus, if its over 228 its definately not capensis.
if its between 200 and 228 then it will be hard to tell.

the eye markings, the capensis and fuliginosus both have pair of eye markings, howeverer the line not running above the eye, the lower line only runs from eye to snout on capensis but goes pass eye on fuliginosus, this is the lower line not the upper line.

I will take pics to show you ok.

Mike
 
Old 03-10-2007, 09:26 AM   #5
IBsmokin
check out my sight , there some nice cape and brown house snake pics on there, http://northeastexotics.net

but I will try to get some close ups on the the sides of the heads of both species ok. i have a number of examples of each species to use for verification.
 
Old 03-10-2007, 10:09 AM   #6
Ssthisto
Thank you, Michael.

How about I post this one:



Any clues?
 
Old 03-16-2007, 09:07 PM   #7
IBsmokin
Capensis

really nice, it should get huge if its a female.
the lower eye line seems to go past eye but it should have been thicker, it just fades away, that is a capensis. the line isnt apart of the upper labials on fuliginosus like it is seen on capensis.

beautiful specimen you have there, show us a full body shot.
 
Old 03-17-2007, 04:22 AM   #8
Ssthisto
That's weird, because someone else has said "oh, she's definitely a nice Fuliginosus" ... so I'm back to being 1-all rather than knowing for sure. We're still waiting for a shed so that we can do a scale count - is it from under the chin to the vent, or under the chin to the tailtip? She is, as far as we're aware, fully grown - she's four years old and just over three feet long.

Here's a full-body shot:

 
Old 03-24-2007, 05:57 AM   #9
Ssthisto
Quote:
Originally Posted by IBsmokin
ventral scale count, if its under 200, its definately not Fuliginosus, if its over 228 its definately not capensis.
if its between 200 and 228 then it will be hard to tell.

the eye markings, the capensis and fuliginosus both have pair of eye markings, howeverer the line not running above the eye, the lower line only runs from eye to snout on capensis but goes pass eye on fuliginosus, this is the lower line not the upper line.

I will take pics to show you ok.

Mike
I've just done a ventral scale count on a fresh shed.

229 ventrals from under chin to vent.

Guess that means she's definitely a Fuliginosus?
 
Old 07-11-2007, 02:33 PM   #10
Ssthisto
Now I'm really confused. I got THIS little guy:



As a six-inch-long hatchling. When I got him, he was BLACK. When I fed him before I left last week to do my school display trip, he was dark brown. When I got back, he looked like the photo above.

I'm starting to think someone broke into my house, misplaced my little black house snake and replaced him with this guy!

He's pretty... but is HE a fuliginosus?
 

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