A Snake Kills and Swallows Another in the Greater Kruger


May 3 2016
“This incredible snake sighting was discovered on our morning game drive at Leadwood Private Camp at approximately 9am by Andries Mbanyise, main game ranger”, says Peter Velleman. Regularly taking leave to spend time in the Greater Kruger National Park, his photos speak volumes for the sightings that he experiences, (To encounter similar wildlife sightings visit Latest Sightings Vacations for a consultation on where to stay). On arrival on the scene, Peter exclaims, “ The Mozambique spitting cobra had already swallowed about half of the rhombic egg eater.”
 
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Peter continues, “It seemed the defenceless cobra became agitated by the presence of our vehicle, and us watching it. We watched for about half an hour as the rhombic egg eater's tail wound around the cobra's body (just behind its head), making it a gruelling process for the cobra to swallow. But it perservered and made slow progress!”
 
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The cobra's fangs are specially adapted for spitting; the venom canal openings at the tips are directed forwards and at right angles to the fangs, enabling the snake to expel its venom a far distance. To swallow their prey whole, a snake uses a squarish bone in the skull with which the jaw articulates and cranial kinesis (the term for significant movement of skull bones relative to each other in addition to movement at the joint between the upper and lower jaw). 
 
“Nervous of us, the cobra slowly moved backwards away from the road. It became hidden from us and other predators under some dried out branches. We were excited and amazed to have come across such a sighting. At first we thought it was one long snake lying in the road, but on closer inspection we discovered that there were TWO! One trying to devour the other! A few in our party did find it punishing to watch, but the experience was too fascinating not to!
 
Following leaving this particular sighting in the heart of the Timbavati Nature Reserve, Peter concludes, “We still wonder if the cobra managed to finish his meal, or whether he too succumbed to the pressure of the rhombic egg eater's tail squeezing his body!”
 
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 Commentary and photography by Peter Velleman

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