The Spotted Bush snake (Philothammus semivariegatus) is an iconic and beautiful species that is well known and common, especially along the Kwazulu-Natal coast.

Often seen under roof eaves of buildings, where they will stay and feed on geckos. Very fast moving and will flee if it feels threatened.  People mistake their fast movements as aggressive behaviour, when in fact the snake is in a frightened panic, and trying to get away.


In South Africa the Spotted Bush snake if found throughout Limpopo and Mpumulanga as well as the northern parts of North-West Province & Gauteng. It is also found over most of Kwazulu-Natal and the coastal regions of the Eastern Cape, with isolated records from the Karoo and the Northern Cape.

Further north the Spotted Bush snake is found across many African countries including Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Southern Mozambique, Zambia, Democratic Republic of the Congo (Zaire), Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Sudan, Republic of South Sudan, Nigeria, Benin, Togo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia, Guinea, Mali, Senegal, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Kenya, Angola, Gambia, Tanzania (incl. Zanzibar), Burkina Faso and Sierra Leone.


The Spotted Bush snake is very slender snake with a long tail and a small distinct head. It averages 50-60cm  – reaching a maximum size of around 85cm.

The color of the Spotted Bush snake is usually a brilliant emerald green with black spots or bars on the forebody.  The eyes have a red or orange iris. The tongue is electric blue with a black fork.

The head and forepart of the body is usually a more vivid green becoming slightly duller green or brown toward the tail.

Specimens from the northern parts of South Africa are often copper-brown or bronze-brown, sometimes with a green head and neck.

Habits and Habitat:

The Spotted Bush snake can be found in a variety of habitats – Common along river banks but widespread in moist savanna, coastal forest, karoo shrub, dry rocky shrubland, thornveld, bushveld, etc.


The Spotted Bush snake has no venom and is therefore harmless. It will strike frantically if cornered and it will only bite if grabbed, or restrained. Bite punctures will bleed freely and may itch.

First Aid:

Wash the wound with soap and water. A band-aid can be used to cover. No other action is needed.