Native Life: Herald Snakes are nocturnal colubrids from Tanzania. They live near streams, creeks, rivers, and other small body of water. They feed on frogs, toads, fish, lizards, mice, and even earthworms. They are quite abundant in their native range.
Size: Herald Snakes typically reach lengths of around 3 foot. They have a solid build and are often heavy bodied for their size. There is some sexual dimorphism in the herald snake. The Females seem to be a bit larger than the males. The females tend to have a thicker body than the males. The females also have a much shorter tail than the males. The females tend to reach 2.5-3 feet and the males tend to reach 2-2.5 feet in length.
Description: These snakes have many color phases and patterns. These phases have been noted in captivity are Goldenrod, olive, purple, black, and all can have speckles infused with their base color. There are 4 lip phases; Red, White, yellow and colorless. These colors are all just a base color and occur along the lips. The scales are smooth. The speckles are small stark white colored specks positioned along the top and side of the snake in a banding pattern. The under belly is cream color with a red line running down the middle. The eyes are elliptical in shape and often quite large. There are many names for them and most come from the overall appearance of the snake. Red lipped snake, White lipped snake, Savannah White lipped snake, rooilipslang, Phimpi, herald snake, bafu, Goomugalla and Black templed cat snake
Behavior: The Herald Snakes are by nature a semi-aggressive snake. The Wild Caught (WC) ones tend to be very aggressive when captured. They flatten their head, hiss, musk, closed mouth strike, and will perform an open mouth strike if strongly provoked. Captive Bred/Captive Hatched (CB & CH) often tend to be docile to a certain extent. Mine tends to flatten her head and closed mouth strike when in shed. They also will musk on occasion. In the wild they are nocturnal and tend to come out and hunt along river banks and hunt for frogs, toads, fish and small rodents.
Venom: These little snakes do have a mild venom. venom. The venom is used to kill prey items. if you are bit there is little you can do about it. You may experience headache, stomach pains, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, bleeding, swelling and pain around the bite site.
Life Span: 15 years with proper care.
Caging: A naturalistic cage works best. I use twice milled cypress because it holds humidity well. It gives them a nice burrowing medium. I also mix it with a little bit of sphagnum and coco fiber for visual appeal. They also like the Sphagnum as it holds Humidity. If you are using Aspen, newspaper/newsprint or paper towel you must provide a large humid hide. Make sure and give them a Cage temperature around 86F on the hot side and about 79F on the cool side. Night temps drop to 75F. These snakes will have shedding issues if not provided with adequate humidity. That means keeping them right around 70% humidity. The mix I use to keep this range is mixing cypress mulch, coco fiber and sphagnum moss together make sure you keep it semi moist.
Feeding: Now feeding is very gruesome thing for babies. I take pinkie mice and quarter it, then scent it with a frog. Scent the mice with spring peepers and cricket frogs. WARNING: Any toad (especially Bufo ssp.) native to the U.S.A will kill a Herald. The toxic qualities in the skin of the toads are not what they are used to in Africa. Then place the snake in a deli cup with the scented pinkie quarter. Wait 2 hours then check the snake. Offer about half the mouse each feeding. Once they reach a about 9 inches they can start to take whole scented pinkies. I can usually convert them to unscented mice after 3-4 months of scented mice. They seem to begin to associate the mice with food without even smelling it. I have noted that these snakes are very intelligent and if you train them to recognize feeding tongs with food they will go for anything on the end of the tongs.
Breeding: Heralds breed profusely! Spring is when breeding is most active but in tropical areas they may breed year round. They are egg layers. They typically lay at least 8 eggs but can lay up to 20 eggs. The best incubation method is a Styrofoam incubator. A container with hatch rite as the laying medium with a heat mat on the bottom of the styro will work well. Allow them to incubate for about 60 days at 80-86 F. Babies are 3 inches long.