ssssssssssssssssSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSnake Sunday: Cape Cobra
Today is SSSSSSNAKE SUNDAY! And we are featuring the Cape Cobra Naja nivea. The Cape Cobra is a beautiful snake that varies from golden yellow to almost black in colouration. Juveniles can be identified by a brown band on their hood. This snake is most easily identified by its particularly aggressive and defensive posture which it adopts at the slightest provocation. This Cape Cobra is also noted for being highly active and very fast moving. It reaches an average length of 1.2 m but can reach 2 m. This distribution of this species is restricted to the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, and Free State provinces of South Africa, as well as Botswana and Namibia. It primarily inhabits dry sandy areas (e.g. the Karoo), semi-urban areas (e.g. informal settlements), disused termite mounds or rodent burrows and has been seen climbing trees.
The Cape Cobra preys on rodents (e.g. rats and mice), lizards, other snakes, frogs and toads. It also eats birds, particularly young birds and eggs in nests (especially Sociable Weavers). Cape Cobras have a relatively long life span (one specimen in San Diego Zoo lived for over 15 years) and they have a very powerful and fast acting neurotoxic venom, more powerful than any other cobra venom in Africa. A bite from a Cape Cobra is life threatening and is a medical emergency (it is responsible for the majority of snake-bite-related fatalities in its range). It is important to note there is anti-venom available that is very effective.
You can help us to map this amazing snake’s 21st century distribution by submitting your photos, along with the location details to ReptileMAP at vmus.adu.org.za and, remember, in order to contribute to any of the virtual museums you need to first register as an ADU observer.
Photo by Tyrone James Ping.
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