The forest cobra can be found in forests and and shrublands throughout most of sub-Saharan Africa. Countries in which it occurs include: Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Nigeria, Cameroon, Gabon, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Senegal, Guinea, the Republic of Congo, Angola, and the Central African Republic. It is found in only small portions of South Africa, but does occur in southern Mozambique and eastern Zimbabwe. (Marais, 2004; Sprawls and Branch, 1995)
is the only African cobra that lives in high altitude forest, residing in a wide range of altitudes from sea level to 2800 m. Forest cobras are highly adaptable snakes, and its habitat varies depending on which part of its African range it is living in. In southern Africa, is sometimes found in savannah and grassland regions. In its western range, can be found in tropical and subtropical forests, savannahs, grasslands, and mangroves. In Zimbabwe, occurs in both low and high-altitude forests, woodlands, thickets, and grasslands.
Forest cobras are frequently found near water, mainly rivers or streams, particularly in otherwise dry habitats such as savannas and grasslands. The snake can also live around human developments, and is encountered in the trees of fruit plantations.
The forest cobra is Africa’s largest cobra species, with an average length of 1.4 to 2.2 m and a maximum recorded length of 2.7 m. Males and females grow to similar sizes, there is no sexual dimorphism in the species. Forest Cobras are thick-bodied, cylindrical snakes with a tapering tail. Their head is fairly large with black and white markings on the side which look like black and white bars on the jaws. Like all cobra species, (Marais, 2004; Shine, et al., 2006; Sprawls and Branch, 1995)has long cervical ribs which allow it to expand the tissue around its neck, forming a wedge-shaped hood. There are several color phases depending on the geographic location of : from Sierra Leone east to Kenya, and then south to Angola, they have a glossy black color with a cream or white chin, throat and belly. In the west African savannah, the color pattern consists of black and yellow bands with a black tail and yellow lips, throat, and chin. Within the eastern coastal plain, they are brown or blackish-brown with a cream or yellow belly. Melanistic forest cobras have also been observed. has 19 to 21 dorsal scales, 201 to 214 ventral, 63 to 72 paired subcaudals, 1 anal plate, 7 to 8 upper labials, 1 to 2 preoculars, 2 to 3 postoculars, 8 lower labials, and variable temporal scales.
The forest cobra once held the record for longevity in captivity with a specimen that lived 28 years. Like most other cobra species, (Sprawls and Branch, 1995)has an average lifespan of about 20 years. Current record in captivity is 35 year, but more common range in captivity is 15-30 years, averaging 18.
The forest cobra is a quick and agile terrestrial snake that is also inclined to climb in trees of 10 meters and higher. Within some of its geographic range, it swims quite often and has been known to feed on fish, so it can be regarded as semi-aquatic. Forest cobras are diurnal in uninhabited areas and nocturnal in urban zones around human activity. When inactive,takes cover in brush piles, holes, hollow logs, or rock clusters. In urban zones, it takes cover in abandoned buildings or trash piles.
When threatened, a forest cobra expands its hood and lifts the front of its body far off of the ground to appear larger. They are able to strike very quickly, with great distance. If the snake feels further threatened after these defensive postures, it will make an effort to bite. For these reasons, (O'Shea, 2005; Sprawls and Branch, 1995)is considered to be one of the most dangerous snakes in Africa and is regarded as aggressive.
Adult rodents, amphibians, birds and bird eggs, other snakes, and anuran tadpoles. Adults do show some preference towards frogs. Juveniles feed mainly on anuran tadpoles, but will also consume small lizards. Forest cobras in west Africa have also been observed to prey upon mudskippers. (Luiselli, et al., 2002; Shine, et al., 2006; Sprawls and Branch, 1995)feed on
Naja melanoleuca has not yet been evaluated by the IUCN Red List, and it is does not have a special status in CITES.
Holly Fitch (author), Indiana University - Purdue University Fort Wayne, Mark Jordan (editor), Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne, George Hammond (editor), Animal Diversity Web Staff.
living in sub-Saharan Africa (south of 30 degrees north) and Madagascar.
uses sound to communicate
living in landscapes dominated by human agriculture.
Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
a substance used for the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease
animals which must use heat acquired from the environment and behavioral adaptations to regulate body temperature
parental care is carried out by females
union of egg and spermatozoan
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having a body temperature that fluctuates with that of the immediate environment; having no mechanism or a poorly developed mechanism for regulating internal body temperature.
offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).
marshes are wetland areas often dominated by grasses and reeds.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
active during the night
reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.
chemicals released into air or water that are detected by and responded to by other animals of the same species
the kind of polygamy in which a female pairs with several males, each of which also pairs with several different females.
"many forms." A species is polymorphic if its individuals can be divided into two or more easily recognized groups, based on structure, color, or other similar characteristics. The term only applies when the distinct groups can be found in the same area; graded or clinal variation throughout the range of a species (e.g. a north-to-south decrease in size) is not polymorphism. Polymorphic characteristics may be inherited because the differences have a genetic basis, or they may be the result of environmental influences. We do not consider sexual differences (i.e. sexual dimorphism), seasonal changes (e.g. change in fur color), or age-related changes to be polymorphic. Polymorphism in a local population can be an adaptation to prevent density-dependent predation, where predators preferentially prey on the most common morph.
rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.
Referring to something living or located adjacent to a waterbody (usually, but not always, a river or stream).
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
breeding is confined to a particular season
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
mature spermatozoa are stored by females following copulation. Male sperm storage also occurs, as sperm are retained in the male epididymes (in mammals) for a period that can, in some cases, extend over several weeks or more, but here we use the term to refer only to sperm storage by females.
living in residential areas on the outskirts of large cities or towns.
uses touch to communicate
Living on the ground.
the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.
A terrestrial biome. Savannas are grasslands with scattered individual trees that do not form a closed canopy. Extensive savannas are found in parts of subtropical and tropical Africa and South America, and in Australia.
A grassland with scattered trees or scattered clumps of trees, a type of community intermediate between grassland and forest. See also Tropical savanna and grassland biome.
A terrestrial biome found in temperate latitudes (>23.5° N or S latitude). Vegetation is made up mostly of grasses, the height and species diversity of which depend largely on the amount of moisture available. Fire and grazing are important in the long-term maintenance of grasslands.
an animal which has an organ capable of injecting a poisonous substance into a wound (for example, scorpions, jellyfish, and rattlesnakes).
movements of a hard surface that are produced by animals as signals to others
uses sight to communicate
young are relatively well-developed when born
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