Fun Cape Wolf Snake Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Jan 31, 2024 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Sep 23, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Cape wolf snake facts are all about this remarkable snake of the Lamprophiidae family.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 5.8 Min

The Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) is endemic to Africa and belongs to the wolf snake family of Lamprophiidae. There are three subspecies of this African snake. Though it appears to be quite intimidating at first sight, this species of snake is non-venomous and does not inflict any harm to humans. It is similar in appearance to that of the common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus) of southern Asia and inhabits dry xerophytic habitats and some are also spotted in urban areas. Their diet includes lizards and skinks. It bears teeth with powerful jaws that are capable to bite and constrict its prey. This particular feature attributes to its name being given as wolf.

Although the Cape wolf snake is listed as a species of Least Concern in the IUCN Red list, these species of snake are threatened by destructive human activities that are gradually leading to habitat loss. Moreover, these snakes are considered an important part of the food chain and are thus, preyed upon by a large number of birds of prey. These African snakes are oviparous and lay about three to nine eggs in the monsoon season. Keep on reading to know more about this one-of-a-kind serpent of eastern, central, and southern Africa.

If you liked reading this article, then do check out wolf snake facts and banded sea krait facts.

Cape Wolf Snake Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a Cape wolf snake?

The Cape wolf snake, quite similar to the common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus) of southern Asia, is a small snake native to a wide range in Africa.

What class of animal does a Cape wolf snake belong to?

The Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) belongs to the class Reptilia, just like red-bellied black snakes and saltwater crocodiles.

How many Cape wolf snakes are there in the world?

Although the exact number of Cape wolf snakes is not known, there are three subspecies of Lycophidion capense present in Africa, and these snakes are described as being common in their range.

Where does a Cape wolf snake live?

The Cape wolf snake's (Lycophidion capense) range includes several regions in central, east, and southern Africa like South Africa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe, Angola, and more. These snakes are quite abundant in their natural range. However, this snake species is very rare in the Cape Provinces and not found in the Namib desert of Southern Africa.

What is a Cape wolf snake's habitat?

The Cape wolf snake resides in desert regions, agricultural lands, near water bodies, and in forests. These species of snake occasionally mark their presence in the urban areas.

Who do Cape wolf snakes live with?

This snake species of central, east, and southern Africa is solitary in nature. They are found dwelling in the dark in their crevices and protecting their eggs.

How long does a Cape wolf snake live?

The lifespan of the Cape wolf snake of Africa is believed to be between 15-20 years.

How do they reproduce?

Unlike the pit viper snake, Cape wolf snakes are oviparous in nature and so they reproduce by laying about three to nine eggs in their breeding season. This snake species of the Lycodon genus breeds during the early months of summer. The eggs hatch after 51 days and the length of these hatchlings ranges up to 4.7 in (12 cm). These snakes are quite protective about their eggs and tend to become aggressive if threatened.

What is their conservation status?

The International Union For Conservation Of Nature or IUCN Red List has listed the Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) as a species of Least Concern. Although their population trend is unknown, the increased human-led destructions and mass forest clearings can impose a threat to this species. Also, snakes are an important part of the food chain and thus are preyed upon by a large number of raptors.

Cape Wolf Snake Fun Facts 

What do Cape wolf snakes look like?

The Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) is a small snake of the Lycodon or Lycophidion genus and is quite similar to the common wolf snake (Lycodon aulicus). It possesses a black-colored or dark brownish body with dry white-tipped scales. Their head is somewhat flat and large. Their skin imparts a metallic luster and they have powerful jaws with a set of teeth in each jaw. The strength of their jaw enables them to capture their prey by biting at first and then gradually constricting their entire body.

How cute are they?

Among other reptiles, snakes are not considered to be cute due to their intimidating appearance and sharp fangs. Although the Cape wolf snake is not venomous, they do bite humans if threatened. Their large flat head also adds to their menacing look.

How do they communicate?

Snakes communicate by hissing and through the release of chemicals called pheromones. They are also capable to detect any kind of vibration or movement on the ground and can immediately escape. A similar pattern of communication can be expected in the Cape wolf snake.

How big is a cape wolf snake?

The Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) is about 17-21 in (43.2-53.3 cm) in length and is way larger than the Barbados threadsnake, which is about 2-10 in (5.1-25.4 cm).

How fast can a Cape wolf snake move?

Although the exact speed of the Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) is not known, the wolf snake species belonging to the same family, are known to be one of the fastest snakes with an average speed of 3.5 mph (5.6 kph).

How much does a Cape wolf snake weigh?

The exact weight of the Cape wolf snake is unknown, but the other wolf snake species are known to be between 55-88 lb (24.9-39.9 kg).

What are the male and female names of the species?

This species of snake has no sex-specific names.

What would you call a baby Cape wolf snake?

A baby Cape wolf snake is commonly referred to as a snakelet or a neonate and is about 4.7 in (12 cm) in length.

What do they eat?

The diet of the Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) includes a large number of lizards and skinks. Their diet is strictly carnivorous and they are known to feed on geckos and small frogs, as well.

Are they poisonous?

There are no instances to suggest that the Cape wolf snake (Lycophidion capense) is a poisonous snake.

Would they make a good pet?

These African snakes range in large numbers in the deserts of South Africa, except the Namib desert, and also range in parts of Cape Province, where they feed on lizards and skinks. Despite their abundance, they are not commonly seen as pets. However, in general, snakes are known to be held captive by humans mostly due to research work.

Did you know?

Snakes are known to possess an olfactory gland, called the Jacobson's gland, located inside their buccal cavity, upon the lower palate. This particular organ acts as an important sensory organ that helps them recognize different smells.

Is a Cape wolf snake venomous? 

The Cape wolf snake is not venomous and hence, does not inflict any danger to humans. However, they possess powerful jaws along with sharp teeth with which they can bite humans.

Why are wolf snakes called wolf snakes? 

Cape wolf snakes (Lycophidion capense) possess powerful jaws and sharp teeth just like a wolf. This African snake species is able to bite their prey and hence, are called wolf snakes.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other reptiles from our marine iguana facts and king cobra fun facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable coiled snake coloring pages.

Main image by Bernard Dupont.

Second image by Bernard Dupont.

Cape Wolf Snake Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Lizards, skinks

What Type of Animal were they?

Carnivore

Average Litter Size?

3-9

How Much Did They Weigh?

N/A

What habitat Do they Live In?

deserts, agricultural lands, water bodies, urban areas

Where Do They Live?

central africa, east africa, southern africa

How Long Were They?

17-21 in (43.2-53.3 cm)

How Tall Were They?

N/A

Class

Reptilia

Genus

Lycophidion

Family

Lamprophiidae

Scientific Name

Lycophidion capense

What Do They Look Like?

Black, brown

Skin Type

Dry scales

What Are Their Main Threats?

birds of prey, humans

What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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