Cladus: Eukaryota
Supergroup: Opisthokonta
Regnum: Animalia
Subregnum: Eumetazoa
Cladus: Bilateria
Cladus: Nephrozoa
Cladus: Deuterostomia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Infraphylum: Gnathostomata
Superclassis: Tetrapoda
Classis: Reptilia
Subclassis: Diapsida
Infraclassis: Lepidosauromorpha
Superordo: Lepidosauria
Ordo: Squamata
Subordo: Serpentes
Superfamilia: Colubroidea
Familia: Colubridae
Subfamilia: Lamprophiinae
Genus: Mehelya
Species: M. capensis - M. crossi - M. egbensis - M. guirali - M. laurenti - M. nyassae - M. poensis - M. stenophthalmus - M. vernayi



Vernacular names
English: File Snakes

Mehelya is a genus of colubrid Snakes from Africa They are collectively grouped as File Snakes due to their unusual scalation. They are not large snakes growing to around 3–4 feet (90–120 cm.) They are non-venomous. Their diet consists mainly of Snakes and lizards and, as has been noted amongst other cannibalistic snakes, their body shape is triangular, this may slso provide some sort of benefit for them within their burrowing lifestyle.


There are 13 recognized species within the genus: Mehelya.

* Angolan File Snake, Mehelya vernayi (Bogert)
* Cape File Snake, Mehelya capensis (Smith 1847)
o Mehelya capensis capensis (Smith 1847)
o Mehelya capensis unicolor (Boulenger, 1910)
o Mehelya capensis savorgnani (Mocquard 1887)
* Crosse's File Snake, Mehelya crossi (Boulenger)
* Dunger's File Snake, Mehelya egbensis (Dunger)
* Forest File Snake, Mehelya poensis (Smith)
* Gabou File Snake, Mehelya gabouensis (Trape & Man)
* Mocquard's File Snake, Mehelya guirali (Mocquard)
* Nyassa File Snake, Mehelya nyassae (Günther)
* Small-Eyed File Snake, Mehelya stenopthalmus (Mocquard, 1887)



File Snakes are found throughout much of Sub-Saharan Africa, from the Cape of South Africa through Zimbabwe, Botswana to the Democratic Republic of the Congo and further. They generally occupy more humid regions but are found in hotter, desert areas too.

Behaviour and diet

File Snakes are, by nature, burrowers, they will occupy old, abandoned burrows of rodents where they shelter from the heat in the relative coolness underground. They are also adept at burrowing themselves, their flattened head aiding them to push their way through the earth and leaf litter. Their scales are most peculiar, large patches of bare skin are seen and scales are separated by large gaps, these scales are very keeled giving the snake the feel of a file – hence their common name. This species is nocturnal, becoming active at night to hunt its prey – other reptiles. It is a noted feeder on snakes and other small lizards such as geckos. Like many species that feed solely on snakes, it has developed a triangular body shape as opposed to the plump, rounded body of other snakes.


1. ^ "Mehelya (Genus)". 2010-01-24. Retrieved 2010-03-29.

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