Cape Cobra or Boomslang?

by | Last updated Feb 10, 2013

Another lesson in not assuming…assume

Call for a large snake high up in a tree. Cream underneath, brown to dark on top. In the tree for most of the day, it started off getting harassed by the owner’s cats in the morning while trying to eat a western leopard toad.

Those of us who got the call all thought the same thing, boomslang – it will probably move off if given the chance. I was closest so I went. The snake was about two stories high splayed out on the fine leafy branches on top. The light was just starting to fade as the sun dropped behind mountains. With a bit of help from the onlookers I got sight of the snake – creamy yellow below, dark on top.

Without too much thought I said “looks like a female boomslang”. The tree was good to climb. About half way up I started to doubt my ID when I noticed a faint dark band on the throat. Wait a minute…”Cape cobra” I called down to which the response “But they don’t climb trees do they?” was called up from about 2 metres below.

I’d always knew that they could climb (they’re known to raid the nests of social weavers), but I’d personally never seen it. And this one was well up there.

As the branches became less likely to carry my weight the higher I got, I had to stretch with my hook to try and drop the snake onto some lower branches and eventually drop it out of the tree. Let me tell you, this capie was an expert climber. Not as fast as a boomslang, but it glided back and forth with ease as I tried to unhook it from the branches while at the same time trying to keep my footing as I was very aware that I had quite a way to fall.

To cut this long story short, it eventually made its way down to some lower branches after all the moving and shaking where I managed to unhook it completely; it fell from a couple of metres and landed with a thud. I clambered down and called to the people below me to watch where it went. Cape cobra

I finally managed to  hook it out from between the wall and some gardens plants placing it safely in my standard newspaper-lined capture container.

Just to make sure that the snake wasn’t injured in any way I took it home and tubed it. There were a couple of minor surface scrapes which I managed to clean up and apply antiseptic cream to thanks to the help of my young assistants 🙂

I’m learning to always expect the unexpected; next time I get a call for a snake in a tree I wont be deciding if it’s a Cape cobra or boomslang in a hurry again.

Any comments or questions? Had an interesting experience with a Cape cobra or boomslang? Share your experiences with below!


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