Colloquial/Common Names: Coral Shield Cobra (English); Kaapse Koraalslang (Afrikaans).

Taxonomy: Class: Reptilia, Order: Squamata; Suborder: Serpentes (Ophidia); Infraorder: Caenophidia; Family: Elapidae [Alternative: Superfamily: Elapoidea; Family: Elapidae; Subfamily: Elapinae]. The subspecies Aspidelaps lubricus lubricus is found in South Africa. Aspidelaps lubricus infuscatus and Aspidelaps lubricus cowlesi are found further north in Namibia and Angola.

Identification: Orange to coral red body with black bands across the body. The head is red or bright orange with a black crossbar between the eyes and a large rostral (nose) shield.

Size: Adults average 500-700mm total length.

Distribution: Widely distributed across the Western and Northern Cape Provinces, as well as western parts of the Eastern Cape and south-western Free State.

Habitat: Fynbos, Succulent Karoo and Nama-Karoo Biomes where they frequent animal burrows and also shelter under rock piles.

Activity & Behaviour: Largely nocturnal, surfacing around sunset.

Diet & Feeding: Lizards, frogs and small rodents.

Reproduction: Oviparous, females lay 3-11 eggs which hatch after two months.

Danger to humans: This is a front-fanged snake with a neurotoxic venom. Bites are potentially dangerous and could result in respiratory failure, especially in children.

Conservation Status: Least Concern.

References and Recommended Further Reading:

  • Alexander, G. & Marais, J. 2007. A Guide to the Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Bates, M. F., Branch, W. R., Bauer, A. M., Burger, M., Marais, J., Alexander, G. J., & de Villiers, M. S. (eds). 2014. Atlas and Red List of the Reptiles of South Africa, Lesotho and Swaziland. Suricata 1. South African National Biodiversity Institute, Pretoria.
  • Branch, W. R. 1998. Field Guide to Snakes and other Reptiles of Southern Africa. Struik Publishers.
  • Broadley, D. G. 1990. FitzSimons’ Snakes of Southern Africa. Jonathan Ball and Ad. Donker Publishers.

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