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Cape Cobra - Hopkins, K & Measey, KT

The Cape Cobra

Cape Cobra dark colour

AR-Snakes-CapeCobra-ReptileAtlasOfSouthAfrica-Els.JC-03

Naja Nivea: (Cape Cobra, Yellow Cobra, Geelslang, Koperkapel, Bruinkapel).

This is the most common poisonous snake found in Kimberley.

The Cape Cobra is a highly venomous moderate sized snake. It can be nervous and aggressive but won’t attack unless cornered or provoked. This highly active, fast moving snake is considered to be one of the deadliest snakes in Southern Africa.

Cape Cobras are very good tree climbers and is known to raid bird nests.

Identification.

Cape Cobras show extreme colour variation, even in the same location.  Do not use colour as the primary identification criteria.  The Cape Cobra will not always spread it’s hood and can easily be mistaken for a harmless mole snake.

Size: Up to 2 meters.

Colour: Yellow to copper, mahogany to purplish black.  Uniform colour to speckled. Juveniles may appear banded and usually have one or two broad black throat bands.
Scales: Smooth
Diet: Small birds, rodents, small reptiles.

NEVER try to identify a snake primarily by it’s colour. There can be major colour variations within the same species of snake some of which can be very similar to other species.

Cape Cobra of Mole Snake?
Colour and size wise a cape cobra and mole snake can be very similar.
Behaviour.
Cape cobras are very usually very nervous and lively and when threatened will rear up and spread it’s hood.
The Head.
The shape and size of the head is the best way to distinguish between the two species.
The cobra have broad triangular head which is usually wider then the body when it’s hood is not spread, with a round temporal area where it’s venom glands are located.
The mode snake who spend much of its life underground have a smaller elongated head and a pointed snout. The mole snakes eyes is also further back from it’s nostrils when compared with the cobra’s.

Here is a video by snake expert Grand Smith to further help with identification.

Venom.

A neurotoxic venom that targets the respiratory system.

Treatment.

Large amounts of antivenom is usually needed to treat its byte.
Without treatment the mortality rate in humans is about 60% and death can occur 2-5 hours after being bitten and sometimes as quick as within half an hour., usually as result of respiratory failure.
Early symptoms can include drowsiness, neurological and neuromuscular symptoms which lead to paralysis and ventilatory failure.

Signs and Symptoms of being bitten
Any or all of these symptoms will not necessarily develop.

Respiratory paralysis or Dyspnea (may develop quickly)
Excessive salivation
Drowsiness
Restlessness
Sudden loss of consciousness
Eyelid drooping (Ptosis)
Ophthalmoplegia
Palatal paralysis
Glossopharyhgeal paralysis or Dysphagia
Generalized convulsions
Fasiculations
Hyporeflexia or Areflexia
Limb paralysis
Stumbing gait (Ataxia)
Head drooping (Cervical muscle paresis or paralysis)
Incontinence
Headache
Local pain or Numbness around bite site (tends to be only mild)

Natural Predators.
Meerkats, honey badger and raptors.

Credits and sources

Cape Snake Conservation

Aeon Computer Kimberley

About James Gird

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