Snakes

The Deadly Cape Cobra…1 Bite Can Kill Up To 6 People

If you plan a visit to South Africa in the near future, there’s one snake you don’t ever want to me….the Cape Cobra. The Cape Cobra kills more people in South Africa than any other snake. It produces a powerful neurotoxin that affects the respiratory system.

Without proper antivenom treatment the mortality rate in humans is 60% and death normally occurs 2-5 hours after being bitten and is usually as a result of respiratory failure due to the onset of paralysis.

The snake is quick to strike and becomes aggressive if cornered, but given its space it is likely to retreat. Its main predators are various species of raptors inhabiting the area and the honey badger.

The cape cobra (Naja nivea) is a highly venomous snake found in southern Africa, particularly in South Africa and in parts of Botswana and south part of Namibia. The species is also called the yellow cobra or brown cobra and sometimes South Africans call them “koperkapel” meaning copper cobra in the Afrikaans language.
 
The cape cobra was first described by Swedish zoologist Carl Linnaeus in 1758, it has no known subspecies. Their specific epithet nivea deriving from the Latin nix or nivis, meaning “snow” or “snowy” is strange since their color isn’t white or whitish. The relation with snow was probably due to the discolouration of the early preserved specimens studied by European taxonomists.
 
They belong to the non-spitting cobras, other members found in this fearsome group are the Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje) and the Snouted Cobra (Naja annulifera). Cape cobras are sometimes confused with other snakes like the rinkhals (Hemachatus haemachatus) which isn’t a true cobra (genus Naja) but is closely related to them.

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