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After our afternoon bush walk in the wilderness, we headed back to our Makuleke camp on the game drive vehicle when all of a sudden I noticed some movement on the ground. It was a large banded phase snouted cobra! What a rare treat!
Also known for its scientific name the Naja annulifera, the students and I were elated. The cobra casually moved right in front of us, totally relaxed and very docile. We waited and watched as this 1.5-meter-long cobra glided smoothly across the path.
Snouted cobras have very large quantities of neurotoxic venom and if you are bitten by one, can cause neurological paralysis and death within an hour. The old name for this snake is the Egyptian cobra, the cobra species which Queen Cleopatra used to kill herself with. If these cobras are provoked, they cannot spit venom but instead will raise its body half a meter into the air and will display an impressive hood! This is to ward off its natural predators such as birds or banded mongooses. These snakes are very shy and readily tries to escape detection. They even play dead! A performance called thanatosis.
Found predominantly in bush-veld areas, cobras feed on other snakes, rodents, toads and eggs. The snouted cobra will lay between 8 and 33 eggs during the summer seasons and love living in termite mounds. They will live there for many years if they are not disturbed or harassed.
We were so fortunate to have witnessed this complex creature. We were the envy of the other students when we returned to camp. We hope you found this interesting.