Naja nivea (Cape cobra, Yellow cobra)
Kaapse geelslang, Koperkapel, Geelkapel, Bruinkapel
[Afrikaans]; isiKhotsholo, umDlambila ?, uDlezinye, umDlezinye [Xhosa]
(animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia >
Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates) > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) >
Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class:
Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) >
(four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota >
Reptilia (reptiles) >
Romeriida > Diapsida > Lepidosauromorpha > Lepidosauria >
Squamata > Serpentes
(snakes) > Family: Elapidae > Genus:
The Cape cobra has a wide colour variation ( varies from a
golden yellow to an almost black colour); however a juvenile specimen can be
identified by a brown band on their hood. The snake is most easily identified by its
particularly aggressive defensive posture which it adopts at the slightest
provocation. This snake is also noted for being highly active and very fast
moving. It reaches an average length of 1.2 meters but can reach 2
Distribution and habitat
This species' distribution is restricted to the
Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Northern Cape, Free State, Botswana and Namibia.
its 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.
Prey consists mainly of
rats and mice) but also includes lizards, other snakes, frogs and toads. It
also eats birds, particularly young birds and eggs in nests. For instance, it
preys extensively on
Predators, parasites and disease
This snake is primarily eaten by
birds of prey (particularly
secretary birds and
snake eagles), It also common for it to be preyed on by other snakes (including its own species).
Mating takes place between September and October , females
lay their eggs between December and January , They normally lay between 8 and 20
eggs in a suitable underground cavity such as a
termite mound or
It has a relatively long life span (one specimen in
San Diego Zoo lived for over 15 years).
Has a very powerful and fast acting neurotoxic venom ,
It is in fact 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 however important to note there is an anti-venom which although required
in large amounts is very effective.
Broadley, D.G. 1983. FitzSimons' Snakes of Southern
Africa. Delta Books, Johannesburg.
Marais, J. 2004. A Complete Guide to Snakes of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers, Cape Town.