The African House Snake Species Guide

I make no claims about being an expert in House Snake Taxonomy and in fact some breeders may take exception to my classification of 

  • L. maculatus (the "Dotted" House Snake)

  • L. fuliginosus (the "Brown" House Snake)
    and

  • L. capensis (the "Cape" House Snake)

All I can present to you here is the results of my research both in my own breeding efforts and from talking to anyone and everyone I can who is working with House Snakes.  While many will have reported to have interbred these three species with success, many also report failures, sterility issues and convincing evidence that these species are in fact distinct.

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These first eight House Snakes are available with some regularity in the US and seem to adapt acceptably to captivity though a few have their issues.  Such as Auroras and Lineatus at times are difficult to get feeding when young or may require lizards or lizard scented rodents from time to time.
Dotted House Snake - Lamprophis MaculatusThe Dotted House Snake - (Lamprophis Maculatus) - First described by Parker in 1932 this is actually the most commonly imported species of House Snake available in the U.S. today.  Many of these are described as "lace patterns" but they are indeed a distinct species.  Many come from Somalia via Tanzania and attempts to breed them to L. fuliginosus and L. capensis have produced a lot of frustrations among many breeders.  
Cape House Snake - Lamprophis CapensisThe Cape House Snake - (Lamprophis Capensis) - Perhaps cited by Dumeril & Bibron as early as 1854 this species has only recently been readily accepted.  Some of these animals are called "Zululand Phase", Zululand is simply a region in South Africa and L. Capensis from this area tend to have a very pronounced pattern.  Again much confusion and problems with interbreeding have occurred between L. Capensis and L. Maculatus and L. Fuliginous.
Brown House Snake - Lamprophis FuliginosusThe Brown House Snake - (Lamprophis Fuliginosus) - First described by Boie in 1827, this is the "common brown house snake".  Generally L. fuliginosus have very little if any pattern and very small eye lines.  In reality they look quite different then either L. maculatus and L. capensis.  L. fuliginosus is extremely variable in color and is one of the most common snakes in much of Africa, though not quite as common in the U.S. pet trade as many would believe.
Aurora House Snake - Lamprophis AuroraThe Aurora House Snake - (Lamprophis Aurora) First described by Linnaeus in 1758 the Aurora House Snake is one of the most beautiful of all House Snakes.  They are available from time to time from breeders and importers but are not readily available.  While they are as easy to breed as most house snakes, they are a bit harder to get feeding as hatchlings and often require lizards or lizard scenting to get feeding.  Hatchlings are also quite tiny and hence also have issues with initial feedings.  
Striped House Snake - Lamprophis LineatusThe Striped House Snake - (Lamprophis Lineatus) Cited by Dumeril & Bibron in 1854 the Striped House Snake is very common in many areas in Africa and is therefore imported in quantity several times a year.  While several species exhibit stripe patterns and phases L. lineatus is easy to decern from all other house snakes.  With its solids lines, large eyes and calm disposition they should make excellent captive.  However, I have personally found my trio difficult to keep feeding and I have very seldom seen captive bred L. lineatus available.
Black House Snake - Lamprophis InornatusThe Black House Snake - (Lamprophis Inornatus) Also cited by Dumeril & Bibron in 1854 the Black House Snake is also sometimes called the "Olive House Snake" or possibly a bit more accurately the "South African Olive House Snake".  This species shares much of the geographic range of L. Capensis (the Cape House Snake) and is highly variable in color, ranging from jet black, to olive green and even an almost turquoise blue.  If you can find them available their care is identical to most of the other common species, they breed easily and are a joy to keep.
Olive House Snake - Lamprophis OlivaceusThe Olive House Snake - (Lamprophis Olivaceus) This snake was cited first by Dumeril in 1854, this is the true olive house snake though it is also highly variable in color ranging from the expected greenish olive to more of a black or brown with green undertones.  There are also several "hypo pastel" lines of this species in existence.  This snake is expensive when available and difficult to find with any regularity but it adepts well to captivity and is easy to breed like most Lamprophis so hopefully over time that will change.  Olives are easy recognize due to a trait not shared by other Lamprophis, they have prominent red eyes.