If you have encountered any difficulties using the key that were not resolvable using the Lucid 3.5 'Help' function in the Key Player, or were not answered on the Home page, read on. Here you will find Identification Tips that clarify common errors and suggest methods for using the key, and a Step-By-Step Guide of an example identification.

If the Lucid Key is not functional and you're looking for instructions on using the backup Microsoft Excel-based key, the specifics can be found here.

Identification Tips

  1. Check the Zone Map to ensure that the snake you are attempting to identify is within the zone covered in this key. All known species within the zone are included, but species and genera from elsewhere in Africa are not, and cannot be accurately identified using this tool. Please note that the data for this key was collected exclusively from specimens from within the range, and therefore may not be entirely descriptive of members of any genera with ranges that expend beyond or lie outside of the covered zone.
  2. Snake identification is done in large part through use of individual scales on the head, body, and tail of the snake. If you are new to snake identification, many of these scales can be confusing. Be sure to consult the glossary for detailed descriptions of each character, as well as practical tips for proper identification.
  3. Some characters may be less reliable than others. That is, some characters exhibit anomalies more often than others (i.e., the character is randomly abnormal in a specimen) or they are just more difficult to discern. In the glossary of characters you will find a rating of 1, 2, or 3 for each character based on how reliable and easy it is to use. Try to use as many easy (1) characters as you can before moving on to medium (2) and hard (3) characters.
  4. For each character, select the state that matches your snake. If you can not find a certain character on your snake, move on and return to it if necessary.
  5. If you can’t remember a character’s definition, before you return to the glossary click on the thumbnail image next to the character name to open a small window displaying an illustration of that character. If the illustration does not clarify the character for you, then return to the glossary.
  6. If you are unsure about the state of a character, either skip it and move on, or select both states you are choosing between as opposed to guessing just one. This will leave all genera that have either state in the Entities Remaining window, and prevent you from accidentally eliminating possibilities with your guess.
  7. If you are left with multiple genera after entering states for all reliable characters, follow the links to the Reptile Database and Wikipedia entries for each genera, or consult the book, Snakes of Western and Central Africa. Some genera can be hard to differentiate by scale characters, but relatively easy to tell apart using photos, descriptions and locality data.

Step-By-Step Guide