Eryx jaculus

Eryx jaculus LINNAEUS 1758

Common Names

Javelin Sand Boa (English), Caucasian Sand Boa (English), Spotted Sand Boa (English), دساس مصري (Arabic)

Languages: English



A rather short, thick snake; largest Egyptian specimen has a total length of 838 mm. Tail relatively short; average tail / total length = 0.08; tail terminating with a blunt rounded scale. Head covered with relatively large scales, 5-9 scales across the interorbital region, 7-14 scales around the eyes, 10-14 supralabials. Dorsals smooth throughout the length of the body; 40-51 scales around mid-body; 165-200 ventrals; anal and subcaudals 15-34, entire. Dorsum sandy with irregularly shaped, brown-gray transverse bands, dark bands between the posterior of the eye to the corner of the mouth; venter plain, whitish.


Conservation Status

Least Concern

Status in Egypt

Rare and localized. Declining due to habitat destruction and over-collection by commercial animal col lectors. Much of the species' marginal habitats on the fringes of the Delta have been reclaimed. Mediterranean coastal habitats are also disappearing and are degrading rapidly. One of the most popular reptiles in the pet trade in Egypt, which is under severe collection pressure. In Egypt it is Critically Endangered.



A nocturnal or crepuscular snake; partly fossorial, capable of moving below soil surface and waits concealed for its prey. Moves in a distinct serpentine motion above the surface.

Ecology and Distribution

Global Distribution

Southeast Europe, North Africa from eastern Morocco to Egypt, east through the Near East to Iran.

Distribution in Egypt

The western Mediterranean coastal plain; margins of the Delta and lower Nile Valley; and parts of North Sinai. In the western Mediterranean coastal plain it is restricted to a narrow band, where fairly mesic conditions prevail. In the Delta and Lower Nile Valley it is found in marginal lands and on the desert outskirts, as well as in isolated sandy pockets within the Delta, as indicated by the record of Stein and Helmy (1994) from Temaii El Andid, Daqahliya Governorate. Occurrence in Sinai is marginal. Neither Schmidt and Marx (1956), nor Werner (1982) reported the species from the Peninsula. However, Flower (1933) reports several speci­mens between Rafah and Gaza (some might have come from Egyptian territory). Saleh (1997) depicts a locality record from northeast Sinai without providing any details. 


A species of loose sandy and alluvial soils, inhabiting semi-desert and marginal agricultural lands, under Mediterranean influence. In Egypt it is found in and adjacent to the Delta alluvial plain. Also in coastal scrubland on the Mediterranean coastal plain.


  • Anguis jaculus Linnaeus, 1758 (synonym)
  • Anguis cerastes Linnaeus, l758 (synonym)
  • Boa turcica Olivier, 1801 (synonym)
  • Eryx cerastes Daudin, 1803 (synonym)
  • Eryx jaculus Daudin, 1803; Boulenger, 1893 (synonym)
  • Eryx familiaris Eichwald, 1831 (synonym)
  • Eryx jaculus Anderson, 1898; Flower, 1933 (synonym)
  • Eryx jaculus jaculus Marx, 1968; Saleh, 1997 (synonym)


S., Baha El Din. (2006).  A Guide to the Reptiles and Amphibians of Egypt, The American University in Cairo Press, Cairo..