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Cape cobra and mole snake fighting, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The mole snake wraps itself tightly around the Cape cobra in an attempt to constrict it © Gavin and Christine Mitchell
GUEST POST by Gavin and Christine Mitchell

On a recent trip to the Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park we came across an unusual but amazing scene of an almost two-metre long Cape cobra and a mole snake engaged in combat. The whole sighting, just south of Nossob, lasted almost an hour!

We noticed that the mole snake was repeatedly trying to escape, but the cobra would pursue and bite it behind the head. Cape cobras, which are venomous, are known to eat other snake species, which makes up to a third of their diet, so presumably this one was determined to make the mole snake its lunch.

Cape cobra attacking mole snake, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Cape cobra was persistently attacking the mole snake while it was trying to escape © Gavin and Christine Mitchell

However, the mole snake was clearly not ready to become another snake’s food and immediately wrapped itself around the Cape cobra’s head and began to constrict it.

Mole snakes are muscular reptiles that use constriction to kill their prey. They are also non-venomous but can deliver a serious bite with their pin-sharp teeth.

Cape cobra entangled with mole snake, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Cape cobra is a venomous snake, while the mole snake, while non-venomous, is very muscular and a strong constrictor © Gavin and Christine Mitchell

The Cape cobra repeatedly tried to pull the mole snake off its neck and head by reversing through the bush. After this was repeated about three times the Cape cobra seemed to feel the pressure of the mole snake’s constriction and let it go.

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Cape cobra biting mole snake, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
The Cape cobra bites the mole snake while trying to get out of its constricting grip © Gavin and Christine Mitchell

At this point the mole snake made its escape and slithered down a hole, while the Cape cobra rested for a while and eventually left in another direction.

We were quite amazed that the mole snake seemed to survive the encounter, although he did look a little worse for wear. It was a wonderful sighting and we came away wondering just how much of an effect the venom from the Cape cobra would have had on the mole snake.

Mole snake leaving the area after fight with Cape cobra, Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park
Eventually the Cape cobra gave up and the mole snake was able to escape © Gavin and Christine Mitchell
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