Aspidelaps lubricus (Coral snake)

Koraalslang [Afrikaans}; Inkamela [Xhosa]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria > Squamata > Serpentes (snakes) > Family: Elapidae > Genus: Aspidelaps

Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus (Cape Coral snake), Western Cape [T. Phelps ,from SARCA Virtual Museum]

Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus (Cape Coral snake), Western Cape [J. Els from SARCA Virtual Museum]


Easily identified by its orange or red colouration and multiple black bars extending down the length of its body (including one that runs down from the eye to the mouth), It can also be identified by a single enlarged nasal scale and its narrow hood. This snake seldom grows beyond 40 cm in length.

Distribution and habitat

The distribution of the three different subspecies distinguised in southern Africa is as follows:

  • Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus (Cape coral snake). Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape and Southern Namibia.
  • Aspidelaps lubricus cowlesi (Angolan Coral snake). North-western Namibia
  • Aspidelaps lubricus infuscatus (Western Coral snake). Northern and central Namibia.


Feeds on lizards, small snakes and rodents (e.g. rats and mice).

Predators, parasites and disease

Fed on by other snakes.


Oviparous (egg laying), lays between 3 and 11 eggs in summer and has been known to lay several batches of eggs during the summer.


Has a maximum lifespan of 9 years.

Medical importance

This Coral snake species has dangerous neurotoxic venom which has to date not caused any deaths, despite this it is still dangerous and requires urgent medical treatment. No antivenom is produced or required. 



  • Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.

  • Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishing, Cape Town.



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