Hoogstraal’s cat snake (Telescopus hoogstraali)
|Also known as:||Sinai cat snake|
|Synonyms:||Telescopus fallax hoogstraali|
|Size||Total length: up to 102 cm (2)|
- Like other cat snakes, Hoogstraal’s cat snake is named for its vertical, cat-like pupils.
- If threatened, Hoogstraal’s cat snake may coil the front part of its body and hiss before striking out.
- Hoogstraal’s cat snake has quite a fragmented, localised distribution in Egypt, Israel and Jordan.
- Hoogstraal’s cat snake occurs in deserts with very little rainfall.
Hoogstraal’s cat snake is classified as Endangered (EN) on the IUCN Red List (1).
Hoogstraal’s cat snake (Telescopus hoogstraali) is a slender snake with a grey body marked with dark, narrow crossbands (2) (3) (4). The number of black bands differs depending on the location, with individuals in the south of the species’ range having a higher number of bands than individuals in the north (2) (4).
Like other Telescopus species, Hoogstraal’s cat snake has a broad head that is clearly distinct from the body (4) (5). The head and neck are black (3) (4), and the eyes are relatively small, with vertical, cat-like pupils (4). The underparts of Hoogstraal’s cat snake are grey, with fine black spots (3) (4).
Hoogstraal’s cat snake has quite a localised distribution, occurring only in Egypt, Israel and Jordan (1) (3) (4). It is found in two areas in Egypt, the Santa Catarina area of the southern Sinai Peninsula and the Gebel Maghara in northern Sinai. Hoogstraal’s cat snake is only found in one part of Israel, in the northern Negev Desert, and in one part of Jordan, in the area of Petra (1).
Hoogstraal’s cat snake is found in grass-covered plains in deserts, where it inhabits lightly vegetated sandstone cliffs and rocky hills (1) (2) (4). The desert areas it inhabits receive only 100 to 150 millimetres of precipitation per year (1).
This species has been recorded up to elevations of at least 1,500 metres (1).
Little information is available on the biology of Hoogstraal’s cat snake. However, it is known to be nocturnal (2) (4), and like other Telescopus species it is terrestrial (5).
The diet of Hoogstraal’s cat snake is reported to consist of small lizards, such as the horn-scaled agama, Trapelus ruderatus (4). When threatened, Hoogstraal’s cat snake coils the front part of its body into an ‘S’ shaped curve, and may hiss before striking out (4).
Hoogstraal’s cat snake lays eggs (1). No other information is available on the breeding behaviourof this snake, but other members of the genus are known to lay clutches of around 5 to 15 eggs (5).
The main threat facing Hoogstraal’s cat snake is its fragmented distribution, which makes it intrinsically more vulnerable to extinction (1). Populations of Hoogstraal’s cat snake are in decline in Egypt because its habitat is being destroyed and the habitat quality is decreasing. Human activities that are reducing its habitat include overgrazing by livestock, quarrying, firewood harvesting and over-collection by scientists. This species is also sometimes killed on roads (1).
The specific threats to Hoogstraal’s cat snake in Israel are not known (1).
There are not known to be any specific conservation measures currently targeted at Hoogstraal’s cat snake. However, this poorly known reptile occurs in Dana Wildlife Reserve in Jordan and in another reserve in part of Sinai, Egypt, which may offer it some protection (1).
Find out more about Hoogstraal’s cat snake and other reptiles:
The Reptile Database:
More information on reptile conservation:
International Reptile Conservation Foundation:
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- Genus: a category used in taxonomy, which is below ‘family’ and above ‘species’. A genus tends to contain species that have characteristics in common. The genus forms the first part of a ‘binomial’ Latin species name; the second part is the specific name.
- Nocturnal: active at night.
IUCN Red List (May, 2012)
- Baha El Din, S. (2006) A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt. American University in Cairo Press, Cairo.
The Reptile Database (May, 2012)
- Amr, Z.S. and Disi, A.M. (2011) Systematics, distribution and ecology of the snakes of Jordan. Vertebrate Zoology, 61(2): 179-266.
- Barabanov, A.V. (2006) The Reptiles of Northern Eurasia. Pensoft Publishers, Sofia, Bulgaria.