The Animals of the Aberdare Ranges of Kenya: Cobras of Kenya


Forest Cobra

Cobras of Kenya

There are four cobra species in Kenya. These are namely the Forest Cobra, Egyptian Cobra, Red Spitting Cobra and the Black Necked Cobra.

Forest Cobra (Naja melanoleuca)
This is the largest cobra in Africa. It prefers dense undergrowth. This snake can grow as long as 8 ft (2.4m). When displaying aggression it will hood. In Kenya, it is mainly found in the Kakamega Forest. They occur near water and have been known to take Tilapia as prey. This snake is an excellent swimmer.

The Forest Cobra has fixed front fangs, which are erectile. Its venom is neurotoxic. It is quite a strong snake and is very aggressive. It is an egg layer. Eggs hatch into little venomous snakes.

Egyptian Cobra (Naja haje)
This snake is large and heavy bodied. It is considered extremely dangerous to humans. One of the reasons for this is that it is a very common snake and contact with humans is thus high. This snake’s venom is heamotoxic and is considered more potent than that of other types of cobra. When injected into its prey, the venom causes paralysis and death due to respiratory failure in about 15 minutes.

The head is small and flat with a rounded snout. It can grow up to 2.4m (8′). It has fixed front fangs, and is an egg layer.

The colouring for this snake ranges from uniform light brown, black, light yellowish brown or orange with broad black bands. It feeds on a variety of vertebrates including frogs and smaller snakes

Red Spitting Cobra (Naja pallida)
Adults can grow as long as 1.2m (4′). The tail may comprise as much as 15-19% of the total body length.

The Red Spitting cobra is a slender beautiful snake. The head is small, although this is not representative of all species. This one has a round body.

This snake occurs in southern as well as the dry eastern and northern Kenya. This snake is orange in colour. The true red specimen becomes a red-brown colour as the snake grows in size.

This snake is nocturnal and during the day will take cover in termite hills, old logs, burrows and brush mounds.

The natural habitat of this snake is the semi desert and Savannah grasslands. They often occur near water and feed mainly on frogs, but they have been known to eat each other.

When threatened, this snake hoods and hisses, spitting venom directly in the direction of the attacker.

The Animals of the
Aberdare Ranges of Kenya
by
Nyambura Kiarie

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