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Sexual size dimorphism, diet, and reproductive biology of the Afro-Asian Sand Snake, Psammophis schokari (Psammophiidae)

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image of Amphibia-Reptilia

We measured and dissected 226 museum specimens of Psammophis schokari (Schokari Sand Snake), a widespread, common “whipsnake” occurring in North Africa and southwest Asia. Three aspects of its ecology were investigated: sexual size dimorphism (SSD), diet, and reproductive biology. There was no significant SSD in mean body size or shape for the traits measured. The species is an opportunistic feeder, but preys predominately on lizards. Males and females exhibit their highest levels of sexual activity in synchrony and exhibit prenuptial spermiogenesis and a Type 1 vitellogenic cycle, respectively. Mating occurs at the end of the rainy season and clutch sizes are small. These findings from a Northern Hemisphere temperate sand snake are consistent with previous results for both tropical and south temperate Psammophis. These traits thus appear to be highly conserved within the genus and also exhibit convergence with respect to unrelated colubroid “whipsnakes”.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Biology, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085, USA;, Email:; 2: Department of Biology, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085, USA


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