Cape Town – A Cape Cobra that cornered its prey, a mole snake, was forced to abandon its kills after the mole snake managed to wedged itself between the wall and the rocks before it succumbed to the cobra’s venom.
Environmental enthusiast Simon Cranswick, with a particular interest in snakes and reptiles, was at Rondvlei Nature Reserve on Freedom Day to visit one of the mangers and see an old Cape Cobra (which they measured to be about 1.81m) that was making its way through the nature reserve for the past few days.
Cranswick not only saw the cobra but was able to video record and take pictures of the incredible interaction in the reserve where the cobra attempted to catch its prey, the mole snake (which they measured to be about 1.47m).
Cranswick said the mole snake was chased behind some rocks of a pond by the cobra and managed to get stuck between the wall and the rocks before it died after being injected with the venom of the cobra.
“We watched the cobra for about 40 minutes trying to swallow the mole snake.
“In the end it had to give up as the mole snake was stuck and the cobra could not pull it out like a human can.
On inspection of the mole snake carcass, Cranswick said the Cobra venom had already started denaturing the body which was already like jelly and the cobra left the area.
“This is a natural relationship between predator and prey and it happens anywhere.
“The sighting is rare though as normally one does not get to see this in the open.
“The cobra had been spotted the day before and we think it had been hunting the mole snake for a while.
“It picks up the scent and follows that.
“Cape Cobras love eating other snakes (particularly puff adders) but they are known to eat frogs, toads and rats/rodents too,” Cranswick said.
Cranswick said they saw three snakes in one day – besides these two, they also spotted a Boomslang in the tree above the dwelling.
“Snakes are clearly out to get their last meals in before hibernation for winter,” Cranswick said.
Johan Marais from the African Snakebite Institute said there were several snakes often found in that area – Boomslang, Puff Adder, Cape Cobra, Mole Snake, Herald, Spotted Harlequin, Common Egg-eater, Spotted Reed Snake, Brown House Snake, Common Slug-eater, Aurora House Snake, Brown Water Snake, Olive Snake, Cross-marked Grass Snake, Karoo Sand Snake, Spotted Skaapsteker, Delalande's Beaked Blind Snake, and Black Thread Snake.
Cranswick said some of the highly venomous species around the reserve included the Cape Cobra, Puff Adder and Boomslang while the non-harmful to man and mildly venomous or constrictor species included the Mole Snake, Common Brown Water Snake, Brown House Snake, Yellow-bellied House Snake and Cross Whip Snake.
He said the cobra would not return to the spot to try and eat the carcass as it needed to eat the prey fresh – the mole snake carcass was removed and thrown into the bushveld for natural recycling.