Male distinguished from the African and great snipes by its breast pattern, longer legs, and shorter, slightly decurved pale bill. It has a laboured flight action on broad wings.
Female is more striking than male, with chestnut neck and breast and a white eyepatch. Both sexes have a consicuous pale harness extending upwards from the breast. Juvenile resembles male.
Skulks among reeds in marshes and on the edges of lakes, vleis, dams and seasonally inundated ponds and river flood plains.
Male utters a trill; female gives a distinctive, soft, disyllabic 'wuk-oooooo', repeated monotonously, often after dark.