Environment

Native Reptiles Of Kenya

A large share of Kenya's reptiles are endemic to either Kenya alone or the somewhat broader region of East Africa.

Kenya is an East African nation that covers an area of 225,000 square miles. The country’s landscape is comprised of Plateaus, highlands, arid areas, the Great Rift Valley, and a beautiful coastline. The different terrains accommodate a variety of plants and wildlife. Some of the most notable wildlife in Kenya include native reptiles such as the Elmenteita Agama, the Arboreal Agama, the Kenyan Carpet Viper, and the Turkana Mud Turtle.

Elmenteita Agama (Agama caudospinosa)

The Elmenteita Agama (Agama caudospinosa) is a lizard species endemic to Kenya. It is mainly found around Lake Elementeita, hence its name. The lizard has a gray cover and sometimes the male displays an orange or red color around its neck. Its average length is 45 centimeters. Elmenteita Agama feeds on spiders, termites, and ants. The lizard does not face any direct threats. It is found in protected areas and is not an endangered.

Kilimanjaro Two-Horned Chameleon (Kinyongia tavetana)

The Kilimanjaro Two-Horned Chameleon (Kinyongia tavetana) is a reptile species native to Kenya and Tanzania. It is found on the hillsides of Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Meru, the Pare Mountains, and the Chyulu Hills. The male has the distinctive feature of two ‘saw blade'-like false horns. The chameleon is used in the international pet trade, and thousands of the species have been exported from their natural habitat. Kilimanjaro Two-Horned Chameleon is threatened by human encroachment on its natural habitat. Additionally, the international pet trade could result in a decline in its population. Research and monitoring of the chameleon’s population are needed to establish whether it is endangered.

Schlegel's Beaked Blind Snake (Afrotyphlops schlegelii)

Schlegel's Beaked Blind Snake (Afrotyphlops schlegelii) is a snake endemic to Eastern and Southern Africa. It inhabits coastal bushes and sandy areas. It is found in Angola, Somalia, Botswana, Tanzania, Namibia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. It feeds exclusively on termites. The longest Schlegel's Beaked Blind Snake that has been found was 95 centimeters. The breeding season runs from late spring to early summer. The female lays 12 to 40 eggs which hatch after five to six weeks. It exists in a wide range of habitats and is highly adaptable. The snake is found in many protected areas and does not face significant threats to its existence.

Bearded Leaf Chameleon (Rieppeleon brevicaudatus)

The Bearded Leaf Chameleon (Rieppeleon brevicaudatus) originates from certain parts of Kenya and northeastern Tanzania. It is one of the smallest four-limbed animals in the world. It is also referred to as a pygmy chameleon with the maximum length recorded being 8 centimeters. It lives on shrubs and low branches in evergreen forests. The chameleon resembles a wilted leaf especially in a lying position with shades of brown, green, and beige. It feeds on crickets, houseflies, moths, locusts, worms, and spiders. The chameleon is often collected as a pet. The species is not on the endangered animals list.

Conservation of Kenya's Reptiles

Numerous reptile species are found in Kenya. However, little is known about many of these reptiles. Research on the population, natural habitats, feeding patterns and threats to the different reptile species is urgently needed. Local communities should be educated on the environmental importance of the reptiles so as to take part in protecting them. Additionally, conservation laws needed to be implemented to prevent the endangered species from becoming extinct.

Native Reptiles of KenyaScientific Name
Elmenteita Agama
Agama caudospinosa
Turkana Mud Turtle
Pelusios broadleyi
Von Höhnel's Chameleon
Trioceros hoehnelli
Arboreal Agama
Agama rueppelli
Bearded Leaf ChameleonRieppeleon brevicaudatus
Kenyan Carpet ViperEchis pyramidum aliaborri
Leakey's Saw-Scaled ViperEchis pyramidum leakeyi
Kilimanjaro Two-Horned ChameleonKinyongia tavetana
Jackson's ChameleonTrioceros jacksonii
Schlegel's Beaked Blind SnakeAfrotyphlops schlegelii

More in Environment