I collected this Common Slug-Eater from a house near Durbanville earlier today – the owners saw a snake going under some rocks in their garden, and kept an eye on it from a safe distance until I arrived.
Although not venomous, these little guys’s scent defense is quite strong – hence the plastic bag I’m using to hold it!
Also known as a “Tabakrolletjie” in Afrikaans, this relatively common little snake can grow up to 43cm in length. Common Slug-Eaters prefer damp localities near grassland, but can also be found in moist savannah, lowland forest, and fynbos.
Often found beneath rocks, logs, grass tufts, and vegetation, Slug Eaters are also known as “The Gardener’s Friend” because they’re useful in keeping down snail populations.
When threatened they seldom bite and prefer to use their powerful scent glands to give off a musky smell in self-defense, or roll up into a tight spiral with their head concealed (like a roll of tobacco, hence the Afrikaans common name).
Common Slug-Eaters prey only on slugs and snails, which they locate by following slime trails. When consuming a snail they grasp the foreparts, then slowly pull the rest of the body out of the shell.
Viviparous, they give live birth to 6-22 young in late summer.