Squirrel squares up to deadly Cape cobra in South Africa

Squirrel squares up to deadly Cape cobra in South Africa

Squirrel squares up to deadly Cape cobra and dodges its lightning-fast strikes in astonishing encounter

  • Cape ground squirrel leaps at cobra while trying to distracts it with its tail
  • The animal encounter was filmed in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa
  • Safari guide Dave Pusey, 41, said it was the first time he had seen a fight like this 

A fearless squirrel took on a hissing cobra and somehow managed to dodge its deadly strikes in a ‘once-in-a-lifetime sighting’ that astonished an experienced safari guide. 

The Cape ground squirrel was filmed chucking dust and charging at the venomous Cape cobra in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa.

Safari guide Dave Pusey, 41, said he had been coming to the park for years but had never witnessed a battle like it, adding: ‘We were amazed at the bravery and speed of the squirrel and how it was irritating the deadly snake.’

Terrifying footage shows the Cape ground squirrel challenging the snake in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park in South Africa

The fearless rodent was filmed leaping at its would-be hunter and trying to distract it with its large bushy tail during the thirty minute confrontation

The stunning two-and-a-half-minute clip shows the squirrel fearlessly stomp towards the cobra with its back arched and appear to try to swipe it with its tail.

The cobra lunges, flaring its trademark hood, but the squirrel deftly leaps out of its way, and continues to challenge it at least 15 times.

When the cobra slithers behind a bush, the squirrel follows, and keeps charging at the predator until it slinks down a hole and out of sight. 

Mr Pusey said they stopped after noticing a cobra looking tense and ready to strike as they drove along the Mata Mata road. 

‘We couldn’t believe our eyes when this scene unfolded before us,’ he said. 

‘The squirrel kept creeping up to the snake and just as it gets close enough, the snake would launch forward and snap a bite at the squirrel. 

‘The squirrel, however, reacted much too quickly and jumped out of the reach of the bite every time! 

The fearless rodent is pictured above stalking towards the snake, filmed by a safari guide

Recorder Dave Pusey, 41, said he had been visiting the park for years but had never witnessed an encounter like this before

The Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park’s location is shown above in relation to the famous Kruger

‘I’ve been traveling to the Kgalagadi for many years, and never thought I would ever see something like this, this was truly a once-in-a-lifetime sighting. 

‘We waited for the fascinating story to end, and, after about half an hour, the snake took refuge in some bushes and eventually found a hole to slither into.

‘The female squirrel then started relaxing and carried on with her business. 

‘It’s most likely that the squirrel had youngsters close by and just wanted the cobra to move away from the area.’ 

The squirrel used lightening reactions to leap just out of reach of the snake each time it struck

It also threw dust in the air in an attempt to distract the predator as it approached

Scientific studies have found that ground squirrels regularly challenge cobras that venture too close to their burrows.

The animals engage in mobbing behaviour, where they charge at the predator and block its advance with their tails, according to a 2007 study in the journal of Behavioral Ecology. They’ll do this repeatedly until the snake backs away.

A study from the University of Manitoba, Canada, published in 2012, found that females with juvenile offspring will harass snakes for more time and more intensely than other individuals.

Why do cape ground squirrels fight cobras? 

Two cape ground squirrels battle each other in Etosha, South Africa

Cape ground squirrels (Xerus inauris) have taken to fighting cobras as a means to defend their burrows, youngsters and deter would-be hunters.

Several scientific studies have recorded the fearless squirrels mobbing snakes and trying to distract them with their bushy tails.

Mother squirrels with babies nearby are also likely to fight snakes for longer, a 2012 study found, and with greater intensity.

They do this despite having no natural protection against the snake’s venom, which could stop them breathing within an hour if they were bitten.

The cape ground squirrel can be considered even more fearless than its North American relative, the Californian ground squirrel.

These heat their tails to threaten rattlesnakes, and also display levels of resistance to the hunters’ venom. 

A Cape ground squirrel pictured rubbing another with its tail in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, South Africa

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