Sunset with the Baobab at Mombo Camp
Sunset with the Baobab at Mombo Camp
Vultures Finishing up a Male Kudu
Vultures Finishing up a Male Kudu

Cape Cobra

Cape Cobra
Setswana Name: 
Scientific Name: 
Naja nivea

Size: 120-150cm; max. 170cm

It has front fixed fangs. It has a neurotoxin.


This relatively small, slender cobra has a broad head and smooth but dull scales in 19-21 rows. There is one preocular and a narrow rostral. Its colouration is varied, with some phases common in certain regions. The yellow cobra is butter-coloured to dirty yellow and sometimes speckled with brown to mahogany with darker and paler flecks; and the black cobra is purple-black. Juveniles are dirty yellow, often finely speckled in dark brown, and have a black throat band.


It is most active during the day and early evening; this snake feeds on a wide array of prey, including other snakes.  It will climb low trees and raid sociable weaver colonies. Cape Cobra is attracted by rodents for food. Unfortunately, it is both nervous and deadly. It spreads a broad hood and confidently disputes its right of way. It does not spit.

The venom is thick like syrup and as toxic as the black mamba’s. The average venom yield is 120mg- 250mg. To kill a human, only 15-20 mg is needed. The venom is neurotoxic, and death usually occurs from the rapid onset of paralysis. Large volumes of antivenom are urgently needed to treat a bitten person. This species is responsible for the majority fatal snakebites.


It resides in dry regions, particularly in the Kgalagadi Transfronteir Park, Central Kalahari Game Reserve and Khutse Game Reserve.


The female lays 8-20 large eggs in a burrow.